Last night at work I was talking to a friend of mine from India and he asked me if I noticed that often in life, whatever you desire you usually don’t get (strange I thought it was usually the opposite). It reminded me a lot of Ecclesiaties where the Teacher says “meaningless! meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). The word meaningless in Hebrew is הֶבֶל (pronounced heh’vel) and this word actually is better understood as enigma, paradoxical, frustration, absurdity or in my definition a glitch. Why glitch? Because if you’ve ever played a video game or regularly use technology then you know how frustrating and even at times absurd glitches can be. You can save your work, press the right buttons, have the best setup but everything at some point fails, works slowly and glitches out.
One way you could read this verse then is “glitches! glitches! everything in life has a glitch!” This was the way I tried to explain the concept of heh’vel to my friend. Life it seems are full of these little glitches in the system of life. It doesn’t matter if you input the right commands, do the right things and think the right thoughts the glitch can always set you back and there’s nothing you can do about it. Life isn’t fair, people suffer that don’t deserve it, and those that do deserve suffering never seem to get their just desserts. You can pour your heart and soul into a job and get fired tomorrow. You can buy roses and lavish love upon your partner and be cheated on. On the flipside, you can lie cheat and steal and get everything you ever wanted. Life is indeed heh’vel and glitch-filled.
This brings to my mind a few questions that need answering:
- How do we live in a heh’vel glitch-filled world?
- How do we react to the heh’vel that comes my way?
- If this isn’t how life is supposed to be, how can I fix it?
These are hard questions to answer, they don’t come easily, but I do think the Bible offers some wisdom here. The Bible is a grand narrative that tells one important story:
Yahweh God in Heaven desires humanity to flourish in a good relationship with Himself, one another, and creation. Yet we have chosen to go our own way and in the process, we have broken our relationship with God, killed each other, and pillaged the earth. God then takes it upon Himself to fix our broken sinfulness by reconciling us to Him, me to you, and humanity to the earth. He does this through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and His ongoing work as king over the earth.
The glitch is sin and brokenness. The glitch is something that was never programmed by the Master Programmer. The glitch advocates for injustice, destruction and death. For thousands of years, we’ve all tried to fix the glitch to no avail. What we need is the Programmer to reprogram life beginning with the heh’vel and sin in our own hearts. This is Jesus. Jesus wants to work on you, in you and for you. Just ask.