Read Ecclesiastes 2:10-11
10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors.11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. (NLT)
We have perhaps seen cartoons of haggard men crawling in the desert, dying of thirst. We are aware that such people will occasionally see mirages. Something that appears so real, so attractive, so desirable, and yet proves illusory.
The writer of Ecclesiastes is describing such mirages. Not in a desert but in a life which in his case was full of wealth and power. Mirages do not just consist of oases of palm trees and wells of water. They may take the form of earthly power, wealth, sexual activity, pleasure of any sort. They can be mirages because they don’t deliver what they promise.
It is not wrong to have power or enjoy pleasure. The problem arises when these become ends in themselves. When they are viewed as our ultimate ambitions. When they are seen to be the key to our humanity. We may end up gaining quite a bit in a material sense but still fall short of who we were made to be. Our lives seem so full and at the same time feel rather empty.
As people made in God’s image, we were made for him. We are more than just material beings. Chase after a loving relationship with him and others. That way, we will end up with something that really matters. Chase after those other things as ends in themselves and we end up chasing the wind. Possessing much but having little.