This morning, I was jamming to the Lorde album “Pure Heroine,” because I’m a teenager at heart. I was mindlessly singing along to song after song as I made my way to church, until I stumbled upon the common theme woven through each of the seemingly unrelated songs: history repeats.
Each song alludes to aristocracy, nobility, ancient empires. In some songs, the allusion is pretty on the nose, while others have more subtle references:
Everything’s cool when we’re all in line for the throne / But I know it’s not forever (yeah)
Only bad people live to see their likeness set in stone / What does that make me?
Delicate in every way but one (the swordplay) / God knows we like archaic kinds of fun (the old way)
Call all the ladies out / They’re in their finery / A hundred jewels on throats / A hundred jewels between teeth
Her hit song Royals is really what caught my thoughts this morning, though. I have probably listened to it one hundred times, but this morning, something struck me:
Every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom / Bloodstains, ballgowns, trashin’ the hotel room / We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams / But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece / Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash / We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair / And we’ll never be royals / It don’t run in our blood / That kind of luxe just ain’t for us / We crave a different kind of buzz.
Oddly enough, these words reminded me of one of my favorite passages of scripture.
Because I am not a normal person, that can be found in what is possibly the most depressing part of the Bible – Ecclesiastes. I have met very few people that understand my absolute adoration of the sweet, existential verses nestled within that book. Most find it depressing – probably because of all of those “everything is meaningless”s peppering those pages – but personally, it has lifted me from some of the darkest times in my life, oddly enough for the same reason.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. … I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecc. 1:2-7, 13-18)
Kind of lends credence to “ignorance is bliss,” doesn’t it?
And it’s true, right? It sounds like Solomon was wrestling with the same things that we struggle with now, thousands of years later. He felt empty inside, unfulfilled, restless.
And the thing is, he had literally everything. Think of the richest person alive right now – Solomon could probably buy him out twenty times over and still have plenty left. He did not lack in love (or lust) – he had a thousand wives. He was gifted with wisdom beyond measure. He had everything.
And that everything turned out to be nothing. Just like every rich, wise, powerful ruler before and after him, he realized that his possessions were nothing but particles of dust he’d managed to capture for a moment and hold between his fingers before they slipped away. To treat them as anything more is to experience disappointment at very least; the consequences can be much more severe, though. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die.” (Rom. 8:13)
This is why Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber and Amanda Bynes – people, who to ordinary folks like you and me, have literally everything – develop addictions and relish in self-destructive behavior. Because all of the fame, all of the riches, all of the renown in all the world, cannot secure that which we all search for – Security. Inner peace. Immortality.
Those things can only be found in Christ.
So remember this the next time that you find yourself worrying about things that, in the grand scheme of things, are thoroughly insignificant. Instead, devote your energy and care to finding fulfillment in Christ. He alone can fill the void in our hearts.
(Aaaand I just thought of a way I could’ve worked Once Upon a Time into this. Oh well, another time.)