It’s easy to feel hopeless. Sometimes circumstances leave us thinking life isn’t worth it, and our challenges can seem painful, our hardships long and our work never-ending. Many years ago a powerful king by the name of Solomon wrote what is sometimes seen as a highly pessimistic book named Ecclesiastes. Even despite being one of the ‘best off people’ of his time, this feeling of emptiness was all too familiar. What is the point of it all? It’s as if we’re forever chasing the wind and even our best efforts will never be good enough.
This may sound depressing at the moment, but stick with me! I recently had the opportunity to attend the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students’ National Training Event (NTE) in Canberra. Joining university students from all around the country and ministry workers from every continent of the globe, we explored, in a way, the meaning of life. The overarching theme of the entire event was ‘Living in light of the end’, and we undertook a number of sessions to grasp an idea of how this changes our perspective of the now. This included main message sessions, strand groups, and elective talks. On the first night, the renowned preacher Richard Chin introduced us to chapter one of Ecclesiastes and we considered the reality of the futility of life that many of us experience. As the days progressed and we explored more content, it became clear that our meaning in this life is found in something many of us consider important: love. In the Christian faith, we believe that love endures forever and this same love was here from the beginning, being revealed through God coming into the world. Though our situation seems hopeless and we all fall short in one way or another, Jesus came to bring love. As I learnt in my strand group, it is by this love that all things are able to ‘hold together’ even in the ‘brokenness’, if you like, of this world. And we receive more love by finding hope in our perseverance of hardship, developing character in the process. We read about the love God expressed by dying for us; Jesus on the cross is able to reconcile us to Him so we can be at peace with God. This gift of the hope in the gospel (good news of Jesus) is given freely and we only need to believe it. By doing this not only will we find meaning in the seemingly hopeless circumstances of our lives, we can continue in the ways of love for all of eternity.
In the last year or so I made the choice to take the step and become a Christian and soon became involved in the Ballarat Christian Union. It has been nothing like the stereotypes might suggest, just about uni students coming together in fellowship to learn about God and enjoy one another’s company. It was here that I was encouraged to attend the NTE and here that I have grown and been challenged as a believer. I would encourage other students to look into it and consider viewing the world through a different lens if you like. Life is certainly worth it — just sometimes the purpose is hidden under the surface.
by Jess Powell
Image: ‘Lyneham Aerial’ by Graeme Bartlett, CC 3.0