If you read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, you will find a very negative passage. Just before these verses, in the last part of , Solomon notes that "All is vanity and striving after the wind." He then summarizes the first 8 verses of chapter 3 by writing in verse 9, "What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?!" In light of the truths expressed in verses 1-8, there seems to be no profit or value in laboring at all, because everything a man does eventually comes undone!
I see two things these verses are teaching us: (1) Life is frustrating, and (2) Life is frustrating for a purpose.
Just as there are seasons in nature, so are there seasons in our lives. There is a season of laughter, but it won't last long it will be followed ay a season of tears, but then, that won't last long either, it will be followed by another season of happiness!
We fought WW1, -- then peace; then came WW2, followed by peace; then came the Korean War, followed by peace; then theVietnam War, etc., etc. Things just keep on turning, turning, turning.
When you stop to think about it, life is pretty frustrating. You get something nailed down, but the nails eventually come loose or rust away. Nothing that man does will stay done forever. You may plant a perennial plant that blooms year after year, but eventually you'll have to replace it. You can put a new roof on a house and it may last 40 years, but eventually you'll have to replace it. I'm sure housewives could add a couple hundred things along this line: Wash dishes, but they don't stay clean; make beds, but they don't stay made; labor for two house in a hot kitchen to prepare a meal that's devoured in ten minutes, and the family expects you to begin doing it all over again!
What's the use of bringing a new life into the world when that little one will eventually grow, suffer and die? Doctors could conclude, "What's the use of healing people, they will eventually die anyway!" Why labor and sacrifice for our children who will just grow up, leave home, and eventually forget all the sacrifices we made for them? Why give yourself totally to one man or one woman when the odds are 50/50 that your spouse will turn against you? Even preachers are tempted to say, "Why work so hard studying and preparing sermons when the majority will ignore them and their lives never change?"
When we look at life like this, everything does seem pretty pointless, doesn't it? But the REASON it seems pointless is because such a view is only *two dimensional,* that is, we are looking at ourselves in lieu of this world, and God is no where in the picture! Without God in our lives, life will always seem like a mass of contradictions and that's exactly what the whole book of Ecclesiastes is trying to teach us!
In verses 1-9, God is not mentioned even once. But when we get to verses 10 & 11, we are told that the hand of God is in *everything* that happens; everything is overseen by Him; and in all these things, God has a purpose; and that purpose is "That we can be exercised in them!"
Now think about this. In every season of life: birth/death -- healing/killing weeping/laughing war/peace, there is a purpose! And that purpose is so we can be *exercised in it.*
Finally, in verse 11, we read that God has also set eternity in their heart (NKJV, ESV, ASV). God allows all these frustrations of life so that we will seek something *permanent.* In this life, things just keep on turning, turning, and turning. We want off this merry-go-round, but every road we travel comes to a dead end! How do we "put on the brakes?" We get out of the two dimensional arena, and step into the three dimensional arena the one that includes God! The purpose for your good times and bad is to make you realize that this world is not your final home. That should ignite that "sense of eternity" which will cause you to seek God. That's the first purpose of this life. And amid all the dead end streets, there is still one way out, and only One Way. "I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6).