Skip to content
A Dose of Reality

A Dose of Reality

By: Alistair Begg - May 5, 2023

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Once when I was visiting a small village in England, I stumbled upon a graveyard. As I walked among the tombstones, I observed a variety of ages chiseled into their surfaces. Some people had lived to be 91 and others 84, while some did not make it past 20. Yet when all these ages were taken together, the average life span was around 70 to 80 years—just as the Bible says: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty” (Psalm 90:10). And more time than that had gone by since most of these people had passed.

This sobering reminder of life’s brevity returned me to a question that all of us ask at one point or another: Is this life all there is?

The book of Ecclesiastes addresses this deep question by giving us a solid dose of reality. Truthfully, most of us don’t do well with reality; we prefer fantasy, mirage, and distraction. Yet the author of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, begins his discourse by encouraging us to reflect upon the absolute meaninglessness of life, stating bluntly, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

Solomon seeks to prove his thesis by showing us that life is marked by drudgery: “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:3-4). Life, in other words, is just a perpetual series of clockings in and clockings out until you die. No matter who you are—whether you are an executive, a schoolteacher, or a stay-at-home mom—life “under the sun” contains much toil, and then it ends.

Does this leave you thoroughly depressed? It should—if you rule out the existence of God. When God is taken out of the equation, life truly has no meaning. There is a reason why some people desire to escape reality through a drug-induced stupor or through mindless indulgence in pleasure and entertainment. What may seem like strange behavior to us may actually be the response of one who has gotten a heavy, albeit incomplete, dose of reality.

The book of Ecclesiastes forces us to consider the meaning of life in view of death. But read the rest of the Bible and you will discover that you may receive eternal life by trusting in Him who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Only through Jesus will you discover life’s true meaning and find the reason why all is not vanity. Only if you remember there is life beyond the grave will you be able to live with joy, and meet with the ups and downs of life with a healthy perspective, on this side of the grave.

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg has been in pastoral ministry since 1975. Following graduation from The London School of Theology, he served eight years in Scotland at both Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh and Hamilton Baptist Church. In 1983, he became the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio. He has written several books and is heard daily and weekly on the radio program, Truth For Life. His Daily Devotionals are presented here via a syndication agreement.
More From This Author
Faith  |  Alistair Begg  • 
February 1, 2024

Continue in Grace

Faith  |  Alistair Begg  • 
January 31, 2024

Giving Back to the Giver

Faith  |  Alistair Begg  • 
January 30, 2024

The Lord’s Work

Previous Story
Faith  |  Alistair Begg  • 
May 4, 2023

Fearless Faith

Next Story