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
Imagine being able to ask for the one thing in life you want most above all others at this very moment! What would it be? Would you know immediately what your answer would be?
The number one response would probably be to win the lottery or to obtain wealth! The thought of never having to work another day sounds ideal, doesn’t it? And it would be pretty incredible to know we don’t ever have to worry about money again and that we would be able to buy or do whatever we want! Then, of course, with that gift would come a life of travel, adventure, our own chefs, gardeners, maids and butlers, cars, yachts, many houses in different locations, designer clothes, our own gyms and movie theaters, pools, spas, shopping, fun, and pleasure! The ideas are endless! It’s pretty intriguing to dream of such a life, isn’t it?
But how different our answers could be. Those who are facing health situations with a loved one or friend might ask for healing. Those who are grief-stricken or in despair might ask for comfort and aid. Those who are in unhappy relationships might ask for love, family, and true happiness, and some individuals might simply need to know that someone cares. Those who are struggling with challenging problems might ask for resolution and peace, and some might just need a dose of hope and assurance that the future holds more than the past. What a gift to be able to choose what we want most! Or would it?
Amazingly, Scripture tells us in 1 Kings 3: 5 that Solomon, who was known for his great wisdom, was given such a choice as he began his reign over the people of Israel after the death of his father, King David. In fact, this gift was offered to him in a dream by God Himself with these words: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
God wanted to bless him for continuing to follow the faithful decrees of his father. Since he was a young man and so inexperienced, Solomon immediately responded by asking for wisdom to govern the people and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
God was so pleased by His request that He promised to give him precisely what he had asked for, and all the things he had not, such as wealth, fame, and success – all the attributes that no one had ever had before in such abundance and never would have again. Because of these gifts, Solomon was able to observe and experience life beyond anything we could ever imagine. With his power and wealth, he was able to have anything and everything he wanted whenever he wanted it, and he denied himself nothing.
But incredibly he discovered that none of these things mattered – that they brought no real happiness and led him away from God to a life filled with emptiness and momentary pleasures – “a chasing after the wind”.
He describes all the worldly things “under the sun” in which he tried to find fulfillment. He built magnificent palaces and beautiful homes for himself, designed breath-taking parks, gardens, and vineyards. He took over 700 women to be his wives, had 300 concubines, and he searched to find satisfaction in scientific study, wisdom, philosophy, adventure, pleasure and laughter, wine, prosperity and luxury.
He found that even with all these, life was disappointing and useless, with temporary diversions that just led to the desire and search for something else to make him happy. He kept thinking there had to be something more, something else that would satisfy his longing. Nothing ever did, and he finally came to the conclusion that without God, life had no purpose or meaning. The “Teacher” in the book of Ecclesiastes examines the meaning of life and how empty it can become without His presence.
What a lesson for all of us as we realize that those who do not have a saving belief in Christ are faced with a life that will ultimately become meaningless – irrelevant, useless, and “a chasing after the wind”. How sad to think that we might come to the end of our lives and realize that nothing we have ever done has meant anything, that life has been wasted in pursuit of pleasure, or that the one thing that we thought would bring us so much happiness, never did.
What joy and contentment we would miss out on without a life filled with God’s presence, love, and grace. Only He can give lasting happiness, fulfillment, and peace.
Dear God, help us to understand what brings us true meaning and purpose in life, and that is a relationship with you. May we realize that so many things of this world are fleeting and meaningless. Thank you for your loving presence with us, your hope, peace, contentment, and joy. Amen