The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I know that one thing will happen to both of them. Then I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” So I said to myself, “This also is for nothing.” For the wise man will not be remembered forever any more than the fool. All will be forgotten in the days to come. The wise man dies just like the fool! (NLV)
We can never accuse the writer of this book, Solomon, of excessive cheerfulness! We need to remember he wrote such words to describe life and death if we leave God out of the picture. And he has a point. In a few generations none of us will be remembered in any personal way. We will be names in a personal family history tree. For a few, our names may be publicly known for our feats though only through impersonal history books.
Two things save us from gloomy despondency. One is that each of us can leave a legacy to others that will outlive our own mortal existence on earth. Our words, our acts, our influence, can achieve an impact way beyond our own lifespan. We can be sure that whatever good and lovely things our Maker has planted in our own lives, these will be used by him to bless others. We may not see the blessing in our lifetime, but we do not live in bubbles. The good we do changes at least our own small worlds for the better even if it does not become an entry in a history book of our times.
The other point to make is that even though others will have forgotten us as the memories fade and the generations succeed one another, our God will have us in his mind and in his care. There will come a time when we will be swept from our life on earth into the new heavens and the new earth. We live on, not as half-forgotten names, but as loved children of a Father who always has us close to his heart and who never forgets us.