So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 2:17–19, 24–25, ESV)?
Every person who walks this earth has something in common: a longing for fulfillment. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 teaches, the Creator has endowed us with eternity in our hearts. Every discussion of human nature or of the meaning of ministry must begin with this reality. Humans are unique among living creatures in that at our core, we all hunger for something that the experiences of this planet cannot satisfy.
“Every person who walks this earth has something in common: a longing for fulfillment.”
If ever a human strolled down each conceivable avenue of potential satisfaction without finding it, that person was Solomon, the ancient king of Israel. From alcohol to sex with a different woman every day, Solomon explored all conceivable iterations of lifestyles of the rich and famous. From musical creativity to maximum opulence to palaces and rolling estates that run to the horizon, he had the means to do it all—and he did.
Yet his frustration is easily heard in his words. He had it all but he said, “So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity.” Vanity means emptiness. He basically confessed, “I experienced everything that’s possible, and it was worthless to me.” He called it “vanity and striving after the wind.”
Solomon discovered what so many fail to realize: history is a repetitive loop of personal and societal futility. Everything is ultimately empty, and human experience is much more common than diverse, more universal than unique. We are all the same. And Solomon rightly concludes that fulfillment must come from a source outside of ourselves: “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.”
God created us this way. It’s in our DNA. By design, we can never find satisfaction in the things of this world. God’s point is clear and compelling: In our very make-up, we have an innate longing for Him, and life has no meaning apart from Him.
Father, I acknowledge the lesson that Solomon learned the hard way: that the things of this world will never satisfy me. Only You will. Forgive me for chasing after the wind. Please make me sensitive to Your correction when I wander toward empty pursuits. Thank You for designing my soul with that deep desire for You and for filling the void in my life with Yourself. In the name of Jesus, who is abundant life, amen.