I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. (NLT)
Where do we find the deepest pleasure? An end to loneliness? The truest beauty? We can have a taste of fulfilment in observing the created world. We can find some solace and delight in others. But given that God has “planted eternity” in our hearts, it is likely that none of these things will ultimately satisfy.
The English writer, Virginia Woolf, has one of her characters say: “I go to my friends, I to my own heart, I seek among phrases and fragments something unbroken. I to whom there is not enough beauty in moon or tree, to whom the touch of one person with another is all, yet who cannot even grasp that; I who am so imperfect, so weak, so unspeakably lonely.”
Many years ago those words resonated with me…and they still do. They are a reminder of what our text is saying: there is pleasure to be had in the world and in others. There is beauty. And we are to enjoy all this. However, we can only see or experience part of the whole picture. We neither sink into despair (and those like Virginia Woolf who didn’t see the bigger picture did indeed so sink), or assume this life is all there is.
We live life to the full, aware that all our grasp of beauty, all our deep connections with others, all our real and delightful pleasures, are pointers to something else, something richer and deeper. Something eternal.
In the words of St Augustine, “You made us Lord for yourself and our hearts are restless till they rest in you.”