Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Dear Diary: Everything is meaningless. What do I have to show for all my hard work? Everything is so weary and tiresome. No matter how much I see, I am never satisfied. No matter how much I hear, I’m not content.
Anyone who has ever kept a diary may well have made a similar entry. There are times when nothing seems to bring satisfaction or joy—work is a chore to be endured, recreation is mundane, and what you own and what you know have only resulted in a void within your life. Everything seems meaningless and barren.
If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone. A simple survey of the faces on any early morning train ride into one of our major cities reveals lack of motivation, contentment and joy for the work-day routine.
The despondent king
The diary entry above could have been written by someone living in the 21st century, but it was actually penned around 935 BC by a man called Solomon, and is found in the biblical book Ecclesiastes. At first reading we could be forgiven for thinking he was an out-of-work, down-on-his-luck kind of guy, but in fact his story was just the opposite.
Solomon was a king whose wealth and wisdom were legendary. If anyone was a model of success, it was Solomon. He had the resources to do anything and go anywhere in his quest for meaning and contentment.
Yet, as US author Chuck Swindoll writes:
“Solomon went through a maddening period in his adult life when everything lost its lustre. During this time he called some of the most basic assumptions about existence into question.”
Solomon wrote from the perspective of an older man looking back over his life. Reflecting on his experiences, he becomes aware of his mistakes and how he neglected to include God in his life. He wrote his story so others would be spared from making the same mistakes.
At the start of his diary Solomon writes about human pursuits—the search for meaning through pleasure, knowledge, fame, possessions, work and hobbies. But “everything is meaningless under the sun”, he concludes again and again.
A desire that only God can satisfy
This search is reflected in the words of Tom Landry, long-time coach of US football team, the Dallas Cowboys. For years the team had come close to winning the Super Bowl, but kept missing out. Then it finally happened—they became champions. Not long after this, Landry confided to a friend:
A few days after the game, the overwhelming emotion among the team was how empty that goal was. There must be something more, we all thought.
While Solomon’s diary takes a dim view of life ‘under the sun’, he did discover an important truth: that there is hope and purpose ‘above the sun’; that is, in things that have a spiritual, eternal dimension.
Swindoll writes, “It stands to reason that if we cannot satisfy our drive for meaning and worth on a purely horizontal plane, then we must be able to fulfil it on a vertical level.” Solomon’s parting advice is that when we are frustrated with life and despairing of hope, we should turn our attention from ourselves to God.
Author C.S. Lewis, whose story was told in the film Shadowlands, wrote:
A baby feels hunger—there is such a thing as food; a duckling wants to swim—there is such a thing as water; men feel sexual desire—there is such a thing as sex. If I find myself with a desire which no earthly pleasure can satisfy, probably [they] were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.
By: John Evans
War Cry – Faith Talk