When Life Feels Empty
The Point: Life without Christ is meaningless.
Get Into the Study
Share the following with your group as you introduce this study.
As of mid-February, Seattle was experiencing the snowiest month in 50 years and the snowiest February on record. The city typically sees around an inch of snow in February, but by the end of the 11th, the National Weather Service had reported over 20 inches of snow in the city.
Recent weather headlines have been dominated by the polar vortex’s effects across the northern United States. However, a Google search for Seattle weather in 2018, brings up reminders of the heatwave from only six months ago. This past summer, the number of days exceeding 85 degrees in Seattle was also the highest rate on record.
Like the weather cycle’s extreme highs and lows in temperature, seasons of life can change quickly and dramatically. While we sometimes see reasons behind these life changes, other times the meaning remains unknown. In Ecclesiastes, “The Teacher” points out what can feel like absurd meaninglessness to life lived “under the sun.” In this study, we will see that life without Christ is meaningless, but we will also explore the hope we have when we live life with Christ.
Nikki Wilbanks is a stay-at-home mom, writer, Bible study teacher, and commercial real estate appraiser/investor. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University. She lives with her husband and two children in Murfreesboro, TN.
Get Into the Study [Additional Option]
Use the following optional activity after you discuss the Bible Meets Life.
Play for your group the 60 Minutes interview clip where Tom Brady, who at the time had just won his third Super Bowl ring, said, “Why do I feel like there’s gotta be more than this?” Emphasize that our accomplishments can bring enjoyment and pride, but only Christ gives our lives real meaning and purpose.
Note: After our publication went to print, this video was blocked by CBS CID on copyright grounds. In place of the video, please read the partial interview transcript found below.
[Partial interview transcript]
KROFT: This whole experience — this whole upward trajectory — what have you learned about yourself? What kind of an effect does it have on you?
BRADY: Well, I put incredible amounts of pressure on me. When you feel like you’re ultimately responsible for everyone and everything, even though you have no control over it, and you still blame yourself if things don’t go right — I mean, there’s a lot of pressure. A lot of times I think I get very frustrated and introverted, and there’s times where I’m not the person that I want to be.
Why do I have three Super Bowl rings, and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think: God, it’s gotta be more than this. I mean this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be. I mean I’ve done it. I’m 27. And what else is there for me?
KROFT: What’s the answer?
BRADY: I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I mean I think that’s part of me trying to go out and experience other things. I love playing football, and I love being a quarterback for this team, but, at the same time, I think there’s a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find. I know what ultimately makes me happy are family and friends, and positive relationships with great people. I think I get more out of that than anything.
The broader interview transcript can be found here.
This idea supports the teaching plan found in the Daily Discipleship Guide.
Use the following to wrap up your discussion of Ecclesiastes 1:8-11.
On November 30, 2018, President George H.W. Bush died at the age of 94. For weeks after his death, there were special features on television, newspapers and online news outlets outlining everything our 41st president completed in his 94 years of life. He skydove on his 90th birthday. He was the CIA Director. He graduated from Yale University. He was a United Nations Ambassador. He was a Navy pilot in WWII. And he was the 41st President of the United States.
A life like that can make our own lives seem rather dull and unimportant. And yet, even President Bush once explained, in looking back at his life, “I’m not a legacy kind of guy. I’m a father, and with some experience, did some things right, screwed up a couple of things, but I had my shot.”
In truth, it’s natural for all of us to want to squeeze as much life as we can out of our time on this earth—to want to leave a legacy. But as Christians, the greatest legacy we can leave for others is the truth of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, his legacy is the only one that matters. We are simply called to live godly lives that point others to Christ. That’s our entire earthly assignment.
Information on former President Bush used in this Leader Extra can be found here.
Ashley Emmert is a freelance writer and full-time mama from Chicago, where she lives with her husband and her new baby boy. You can find her on Twitter at @ashgemmert, or failing to update her blog at ashleygraceemmert.blogspot.com.
- What seasons of your life have felt especially full?
- When was the last time you said, “What am I doing here?”
- Who among your friends and family gives the best advice?
- Why is it futile to invest value or meaning in temporary things?
- What are some ways in which people try to find satisfaction?
- Where do you see evidence of endless repetition in today’s culture?
- Why do you think we have such a hard time remembering lessons from the past?
- Why do people often strive to be remembered?
- How does Christ supply satisfaction to the believer in this life?
- How would you describe your life’s purpose today?
- Why is human wisdom inadequate for making life’s endeavors worthwhile?
- Who do you know who lives with a keen sense of purpose?
Send the following link to your group members as either a teaser before the group meets or as a follow-up thought:
Here’s a brief video giving you an overview of this session: Finding Meaning, Session 1.
NOTE: Watching the video requires a log-in, but there is no cost. All it requires is your email address. Your email address is not shared or used for any other purpose. If you receive a pop-up window saying you must subscribe, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.