Solomon was unhappy. The wisest man who ever lived, arguably the most wealthy, most powerful ruler who ever walked this earth despaired of life. After a concerted effort to find meaning and happiness, he’d come to the conclusion that life was futile. From where he was standing, I’d have to agree.
And, like Solomon would remind us, nothing has changed in the thousands of years since he wrote this book. We can see that fact in our 2018 world; people who are the richest, most famous, most powerful, those with astronomical IQ’s and multiple doctorates are some of the unhappiest people. Suicides, divorces, substance abuse, health issues relating to stress are symptoms of rampant unhappiness.
Yet, aren’t the “things” these people have the very things millions of people are working toward or dreaming of? Solomon would advise, “Don’t bother.”
I remember when I was in college, hearing it said that achievement is the birth of despair. Because once you’ve reached your goals, now what do you do? Do you start over again? Do you just sit on it? Because the truth of the matter is, someone is eventually going to surpass you. The euphoria you feel as a result of achieving your goal is short-lived. Then often, despair follows.
Meaningless, Solomon would say. A chasing after a wind.
The key to Solomon’s despair, and to so many others who relate to what he is saying, is that the pursuit of happiness apart from God is hollow at best. Solomon is right to think “if this is all there is, it’s not that great.”
Those of us who know God know this isn’t all there is. We know there is nothing new under the sun, and we’re ok with that because we know what’s above the sun. We don’t put our lives in the hands of money, or fame, health, or people. We know all of that will pass away, like everything else.
But we would not say that this life is meaningless, or a puff of wind. We know life is a gift from God, and He is the giver of all good things. We believe Jesus when he said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
We know that (our) labor is not in vain. (I Corinthians 15:58). There is meaning, and purpose, joy, and assurance in the Lord, every day of this amazing life we live in Him.
And, God’s mercies are new every morning! It’s God Himself who makes life worth living.