Focal Passages: Ecclesiastes 1:1-4, 12-14; 2:1-3, 12-14, 24-26
The biography of Louis Zamperini as told by Laura Hillenbrand in the book Unbroken is compelling. As a teen he was incorrigible, into constant mischief until he discovered a talent for running. His talent gave him national recognition as he vied to become the first four-minute miler. Although injury cut that quest short, Zamperini was able to participate in an Olympics. Then came World War II, and Zamperini joined the military, serving his country as an airman. He and his compatriots completed many successful bombing operations until their plane went down in the Pacific. Miraculously, Zamperini survived almost three months adrift at sea, only to end up in a series of Japanese concentration camps. Zamperini remained “unbroken” through it all.
Against all odds, Zamperini survived the war, and returned home a hero. Life post-war was a struggle. Few people understood the psychological impact of post-war trauma, and Zamperini displayed all the signs. His escape was drinking and was headed toward full-blown alcoholism and losing his wife and family when out of desperation, his wife begged him to attend a Billy Graham crusade. Zamperini unwillingly consented. Reaching the altar, the man who could not be broken by the horrors of war, was broken by God’s spirit.
Zamperini finally found inner peace and meaning. Following his conversion, Zamperini would use the platform God had given him to speak for Christ.
The author of Ecclesiastes pens under the name Qoheleth, which means “leader of the assembly.” He begins by describing man’s pursuit for meaning in life as “absolute futility (1:2).” The party spirit is futile, as is finding happiness and joy by accumulating possessions (2:1-11). But writing as one becoming more enlightened, he recognizes the value of wisdom over folly, comparing it to the advantage of light over darkness (2:13). Another way to find meaning is through work, and giving God thanks for all of life (2:24-25).