I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. – Ecclesiastes 1:14
The book of Ecclesiastes shows us what life is like “under the sun”—and what it shows us is very discouraging. Each one of us pursues satisfaction in this world, but no matter how hard we try or how close we think we may come to it, it eludes us. We have an innate appetite for that which is new and better because we think it will bring us the satisfaction that we are seeking, but ultimately our efforts always come up empty. You’re as likely to catch fulfillment as you are to chase down the wind.
Consider the places to which you have turned for satisfaction. Have you tried to find meaning in your life by filling it with relationships? Then you’ve probably discovered that there isn’t a person on the face of the earth who can fulfill your deepest longings. Have you been trying to satisfy yourself in intellectual pursuits? Then perhaps you’ve learned that there’s not a theorem you can ponder that will ultimately sate your curiosity. Have you been seeking satisfaction in experiences and travel? There is not a journey you can take that will answer your yearnings for sights of beauty and majesty. Or maybe it is something else for you. But whatever we turn to for satisfaction cannot bear the weight of our hopes. Sooner or later, we always end up feeling empty once more.
Is this pessimism? No! This is life “under the sun.” It’s like a Rubik’s Cube with two blocks missing: no matter how many times you spin it, you won’t be able to get all the colors where they need to be because it’s inherently flawed.
If you have been able to put the Rubik’s Cube of your life together so that you can make sense of why no earthly thing you pursue brings you satisfaction, it’s only by the grace of God. There’s only one worldview that is able to make sense of life—only one that answers the questions that are in your mind when you lie awake in the middle of the night.
Your search for satisfaction—your deepest longings and questions—can only be addressed by God Himself. The 5th-century theologian Augustine once declared of God, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” This deep soul-rest is available to you at any time; it can always be found in the all-satisfying God. Whatever you do or don’t have, whatever you’re wishing for or working for “under the sun,” be sure to find your deepest sense of satisfaction in knowing and serving the Lord. With Him all strivings cease, for in Him all longings are met.
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