Is It Meaningless?–Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors

    at which they toil under the sun?—Ecclesiastes 1:2-3
What gets me up in the morning? Why do I roll out of bed when the alarm sounds? Isn’t everything meaningless, as Ecclesiastes says? I feel good about my professional life. If someone earnestly works with me in a writing course, they can acquire and hone skills for reading, writing, and thinking that will make their lives better, but so what? They’re going to die. I’m going to die. Smart or ignorant, things will work out pretty much the same, won’t they? Isn’t it all meaningless?
Albert Camus suggested that the primary philosophical question should be “should I kill myself?” In other words, Camus suggested that a human being needs to ask whether life is worth living, or, to put it less drastically, is bed worth rolling out of when the alarm sounds.
I rise in the morning and eat healthy food to prolong and improve a life that is, apparently, meaningless. I run or bike or otherwise exercise to improve my body for its meaningless existence. Off to work I go, pursuing tasks that are meaningless, paid with money that is meaningless, and provided with medical benefits that allow me to do all of this meaningful stuff in a healthier, longer way. Meaningless.
I’m working to get my weight back under 185 pounds, but I recognize that this is meaningless.
I’m training to run a 5K in less than 23:30 and a marathon in under 4 hours, but these things are meaningless.
I’m putting money into retirement accounts so that when I leave the college’s employ, I’ll have enough money to live well. Meaningless.
Or is it? Jesus healed dozens of people, but those people eventually died. Was that meaningless? Jesus fed 5,000 men on one day, but they got hungry again. Where was the meaning in that? Paul planted churches all over Asia Minor and Greece, but every one of those churches has since ceased to be. Were his efforts meaningless?
Sometimes, my students think that the tasks I set before them are meaningless, “busywork.” I don’t give busywork. The work I give them is designed to lead them to something worthwhile. I trust that the work God puts before me is worthwhile as well, even when it seems trivial. If all the meaning in rolling out of bed lies in it pleasing God, then that action is worthwhile. When we do things for the glory of God, they are never meaningless.