To be quite honest, I struggle with discouragement. I’m not a complainer or a pessimist, but I am a realist, and there are times when my personal life and ministry, even when going well, can be tinged with hopelessness. At first glance, today’s words from Ecclesiastes—“Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!”—don’t necessarily inspire hope in me. (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
But this is the Word of God, so I pray through it, dig a little deeper and what I find is sacred wisdom for today.
I love the Hebrew word for vanity here, which is translated as puff or vapor. It describes so well the transitory, illusory nature of many things in life that disappoint me. I can think that financial security, new experiences, greater knowledge, and working harder will bring me lasting happiness, but they cannot and will not deliver on their empty promises. When I put my efforts into being more relevant, more successful, more seen and heard, I’m never full of lasting peace and joy. . . but most often just full of myself. Vanity of vanities!
Today’s sacred wisdom gives me much needed perspective and re-orients me to my fundamental position as a creature, dependent on God, with a destiny that extends far beyond this world and its offerings.
As I sit on my deck taking in the view of my beautiful garden, the short-lived days of a Michigan summer tick away, and my heart is stirred with such an intense longing for beauty and peace that will last. I am reminded that even the good is temporary and fleeting; it's a tiny glimpse of the eternal for which I am made. It should not tether me to this world, but rather point me towards Heaven. So, I will put my trust in the One who made Heaven and Earth and try to remember that one day soon, everything but Love will pass away like a puff of smoke. I will be satisfied.
And today, I am filled with hope.
Does the goodness in your life point you toward God and help you grow in your relationship with Him? Re-focus on that today.
Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 32 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, and also helps lead a ministry called i.d.916. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren.