What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Can one say about anything, “Look, this is new”? It has already existed in the ages before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)
These two verses are embedded in the beginning of Solomon’s wrestling with the futility of life, limitations of wisdom, and emptiness of pleasure. It can be a bit depressing, but who hasn’t struggled with futility and hope from time to time?
Hearing someone else express “What’s the use? Why even try?” is a reminder we’re not alone. We all tire. We see and hear so many declarations of newness that we begin to want and expect newness with frequency. But strip the “thingness” away from whatever is new, generalize it for what it is (a solution for an everyday challenge, something to help you with daily life, the “last _______ you’ll ever need to buy!”), and we can easily declare “see that, done that, don’t believe it will last either.” Look back over the past couple decades of what you thought was new. It was likely rooted in something not-so-new and followed by improvements of something not-so-newer.
Instead of getting frustrated with the futility of life, we can choose to celebrate consistency and dependability. We don’t have to get discouraged (although we probably still will; after all, we’re consistent, too); we can choose to respond with “Again? Well, no big surprise. I don’t like it, but it is what it is. It’s another change to grow, change, improve. And…moving on.”
So we don’t experience “new.” It’s okay. “New” might be overrated. And when we claim “new,” we might just be deceiving ourselves. We’re heard it before. But what we can experience as new is how we willingly change, think differently, choose another attitude, forgive freely, extend respect, and more. Not new concepts, but we can always embrace them and surprise others with our generosity.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk more about futility.