Chasing the Wind
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NIV)
I doubt there has ever been another person to experience everything this world has to offer more than King Solomon. Solomon searched for the meaning of life by seeking pleasure, constructing amazing projects, accumulating material possessions, and chasing women. But at the end of Solomon’s life, he finally realized the very things he thought would bring meaning to his life left him feeling empty inside. When Solomon initially became King, he did not seek money, fame, and power. Just the opposite! At the beginning of his reign, King Solomon desired wisdom above everything else. If you had just been anointed king and could ask God for anything in this world, what would you ask for? Would you ask God for wisdom? Or would you ask for peace and prosperity?
I used to think Ecclesiastes was the most depressing, negative, and pessimistic view of life, and then I realized that’s exactly what Solomon wanted future generations—and me—to know. Solomon’s purpose for his biography was to let us know that apart from God, life is meaningless. When Solomon reflected on his life and wrote Ecclesiastes, he repeated a couple of principles that he called chasing the wind: all is vanity, and everything is meaningless.
A couple of months ago I helped a dear friend who lost her mother-in-law go through her mother-in-law’s personal belongings. It just felt weird. As we were going through her stuff, I realized stuff is exactly what we leave for someone else to go through when we are gone. It doesn’t matter whether you are King Solomon or a homeless person, when we die, we all leave the same amount behind: all of it! And as Solomon said, “A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.” (Ecclesiastes 6:3). These are strong words spoken from a man who had more wealth than anyone and never found satisfaction in any of the gifts God gave him.
As I read the book of Ecclesiastes and look back over my life, I realize how many years I lived trying to make myself happy. And no matter how much I had, I wanted more. If Solomon were to join me in my study, I would have to admit to him that I regret that it took me so many years of seeking my own pleasures to realize nothing but Jesus satisfies. I believe all of us would benefit from taking a few minutes to reevaluate our lives.
Many people are restless and dissatisfied so we need to ask ourselves why? If you live in America, you live in the wealthiest country in the world. We have everything we could want at the click of a button. Why are we so discontented? Could it be because no pleasure or happiness is possible without God? As Solomon concludes his search to find happiness, he reports to us that the cure for emptiness is to center our desires on God. Only His love can fill the emptiness of the human experience. If we seek God throughout our lives and fill our days serving Him and others rather than fulfilling our selfish desires, we will find contentment because we have found our purpose.
The key verse in Ecclesiastes is at the very end of the book: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
One of the practical ways I try to implement this principle is by reflecting over my day right before I go to sleep to determine how I spent my day. I often think to myself, If I died in the middle of the night and faced Jesus, I wouldn’t want Him to say, “I had so much more for you, but you didn’t trust me!”
One thing is for sure, generations will come and generations will go, but our relationship with God will last forever. Give yourself a gift and read the book of Ecclesiastes. And then ask yourself, “Am I chasing the wind or chasing after God?”