I applied my mind to seek and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people this miserable task to keep them occupied.” (Ecclesiastes 1:13, HCSB)

It doesn’t take long in reading the book of Ecclesiastes for us to figure out that this book is different from all other biblical books.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, ESV)

“Everything is vanity,” writes the author [we believe it is Solomon].  Everything is meaningless, empty, smoke and mirrors, hidden, incomprehensible.  Then he gets to our verse and we see the problem.  He is the wisest man who has ever lived, specifically given the gift of wisdom by God and he has applied his mind to seek and explore through wisdom all that is done under the son.

It is not mystery what Solomon has discovered in his wisdom quest:  Nothing!  He has been stymied.  He cannot form a sort of overarching theory of life because God has hidden this from him.  Solomon states this plainly later in the book:

When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.” (Ecclesiastes 8:16–17, ESV)

To Solomon it is a miserable task to seek out the meaning of what God is up to on earth and not be able to find it or understand it.

We do understand what God’s ultimate purpose is: the working out of salvation through His Son, Jesus.  However, we do not understand the individual threads that build the gigantic tapestry that gets us there.  Trying to understand God’s purpose in any given action is certainly a miserable task and one at which we will surely fail.  Life in Christ is a life of faith and we will often be left scratching our heads asking, “what is God doing on this occasion?”