Life is Vain, Even if Your Prayers are Answered

House is still not painted. Rotten wood is still not replaced. In this context, what does it mean to “seek a spiritual solution” to this physical problem?

I imagine many Christians would say seeking a spiritual solution means to “pray about it.” How does one pray about a house that needs paint? I mean, I get it, I can tell Jesus my house needs painting and go over some details about what needs painting and what boards need replacing. I can ask for “wisdom” in choosing the right paint and application method. I could pray for someone else to read my blog and volunteer to paint it for me.

Undoubtedly, “pray about it” means

1) Ask God to help get it done
2) Ask God to help my attitude

I Imagine that would be “seeking a spiritual solution” to my physical problem.

If some blog reader comes to my house and paints it I would have “an answer to prayer!” That would be swell, but what do I do ten years from now when it needs new paint? Or, as my luck generally goes, the blog reader who paints it has worse vision than mine and tends to put too much paint on his brush and drips all over the place. Is that still an answer to prayer?

OK, so no blog reader paints my house and I end up doing it. It takes all summer and I get sunburned repeatedly. I discover that the whole front of my house is rotten and mold spores are killing my children. This Fall I get diagnosed with skin cancer from too much sunburn. Did I not seek a spiritual solution enough?

Solomon is often credited with a bad attitude due to his book, Ecclesiastes. Solomon has no worse an attitude than any other observer of life. Solomon just has the guts to honestly tell you what’s up–life is vanity. The End.

It’s not just vanity, it’s “vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” He repeats it. It’s not just vain, it’s the vainest vain currently vaining.

Our notion that “seeking a spiritual solution” somehow makes life less vain is one of the worst deceptions of so-called Christianity. We know enough to know the Health and Wealth Gospel is false teaching, but brother, don’t you go messing with the Comfortable Gospel.

We like to think Jesus is on call to do our bidding, so our lives are remarkably free from the laws that govern the rest of creation. Miserable Christians with rebellious kids and failing marriages non-stop blathering about how Jesus got them a good parking spot. It’s unreal.

Life is vain. The Bible couldn’t say it any plainer. You can pray all day and life will still be vain. Know what? Even if your prayers were answered and all your physical problems were removed? Your life is still vain. (remember: Solomon got an answer to his prayer–he got lots of wisdom!)

Seeking the spiritual solution to physical problems ends up with you looking like the beatitudes and your approach to the rotten, unpainted house will look a lot like, “Oh well, whatever. Guess I’ll waste more vain money on my vain house. Hey, what’s for dinner?