It’s a familiar feeling I’m sure we’ve all had at the end of a long day. You’ve done everything you’re supposed to: school, house chores, your homework …. Yet, as you settle in for the night, you might feel a lack of fulfilment or maybe even a bit of emptiness. For some of us, these feelings have only been amplified due to the pandemic restrictions that seem to come back with a vengeance every time we make some progress — just when things feel like they’re going back to normal, more restrictions are put in place. One step forward, two steps back. Church in person, sports together, meeting friends at malls — the usual things that bring us joy are no longer easily accessible to us.
The constant back and forth of this season means that many of us feel like we are caught in a limbo of emotions — you’re not drowning, but you’re not thriving either. You’re not flourishing, just surviving. You don’t feel overwhelmed with despair, but you’re not feeling entirely optimistic. This doesn’t sound so bad if it happens for just a few days, but when it is prolonged, it’s a different story.
The New York Times found the perfect word for this season — languishing. When you’re languishing in this limbo of emotions for too long, without a sense of purpose or fulfilment, it can start to feel exhausting and hopeless. In these moments, perhaps you find yourself exclaiming the words of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes: “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
In these uncertain times, we can remember that the Teacher also says there is a time for everything (Ecc 3:1–8). There is a “time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (3:4). Though we prefer life to be rosy and free from hardship, and cannot claim to understand why God has allowed this pandemic, we can take heart that we will ultimately see that God “has made everything beautiful in its time” (3:11).
We can take this season as a gift, and use it to focus on what really matters. After experiencing and reflecting on all of life’s ups and downs, the Teacher concludes that only one thing truly matters, and that is to “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecc 12:13). Though our circumstances may change endlessly, we can flourish in faith as we look to God for our life’s meaning and purpose (just like Aarksara’s story on page 26, and Joyce’s experience on page 22!).
The past year has been tough for everyone. What can you do when you feel downcast? While it is healthy to grieve the loss of normalcy, will you continue to wallow in sadness, or will you choose to remember that the Lord is your joy and delight? You will flourish in faith as you put your hope in Him (Ps 43:4–5).