Do our lives make any difference? The question is ancient and modern. Both today’s Scripture passage and the 2017 Disney-Pixar movie Coco ask it.
Coco is set on Día de Muertos, a Mexican holiday when families gather to remember their dead relatives. Tradition says that on this day the spirits of those relatives can visit their living families. In an unusual reversal of this journey, a boy named Miguel runs away from his family and finds himself taken into the spirit realm after playing a chord on his ancestor’s guitar. There he meets Héctor, who is desperate to be remembered. During his lifetime, Héctor devoted himself to his music and his family, but after he died—spoiler alert—his music was stolen, his widow banished all mention of him, and his elder daughter starts to forget him. His greatest wish is to return to the living world to see her one last time before he’s forgotten forever.
Ecclesiastes declares that, with few exceptions, in the days to come all will have been long forgotten (v. 16). He sounds as desperate as Héctor when he asks, How can the wise die just like the fools? (v. 16). How unfair life is if “there is nothing new under the sun”(1:9) and all of our effort is just chasing after wind (v. 17).
Years after the Ecclesiastes writer penned these lines, Christ arrives to bring fresh perspective to the conversation. Our lives matter because eternal life begins now. God who knows and loves us in this life will continue to know and love us in the next. Even if we are nameless to the world one day, we will never be lost to God.
What helps you trust that your life has eternal purpose?
God of the living and the dead, when I feel overwhelmed with uncertainties and struggles, remind me that my life with you is eternal. Amen.