Have you ever felt there was something else to your life than what you have? Have you tried to find contentment in life, but it just seems to elude you? There was a man who investigated the path to happiness and contentment. You may have heard of him. His name is Qohelet. He is the epitome of hard word, shrewd planning, and higher learning. He wrote the result of his lifetime of experience into a book entitled “Qohelet.” We call it the book of Ecclesiastes.
Notice his opening line in Ecclesiastes 1:2: “Meaningless! Meaningless! All is meaningless!” The Hebrew word used here is “Hebel,” and it literally means something like “breath” or “vapor.” Used figuratively, it carries the idea of something with no substance. So we translate it, “meaningless.” After a lifetime of monumental achievements in all areas of life, he sees that everything on the earth, or “under the sun” as he calls it, amounts to nothing. He calls it a “striving after the wind.”
What? Do you mean building a good life for yourself is nothing? Do you mean investing and saving up in order to increase your net worth as much as possible is nothing? Do you mean working long hours to provide for your wife and children is meaningless? Qohelet’s answer to these questions is “yes.” After a lifetime of doing these very things, Qohelet finally realized that it was all meaningless.
Have you read the legend of Satan’s worldwide convention? In the opening address to his evil angels, he said, “We can’t keep Bibles away from Christians. We can’t keep them from going to worship. We can’t tempt most of them to become hateful, mean and immoral. But we can keep them from forming a close, abiding relationship with Christ. We can keep them in “first grade” in their Bible knowledge for a lifetime. So let them go to church services, let them lead good, moral lives. BUT steal their time, so they never grow to maturity. He continued, “That is what I want you to do. Distract them from Bible study, prayer, and meditation.”
“How do we do that?” asked an angel. “Keep them busy with nonessentials. Invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds. Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade wives to go to work for long hours and husbands to work six or seven days a week, ten hours a day or more, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them away from their children as much as possible. As the family become fragmented, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.”
Satan added, “Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot concentrate on the word for more than just a few minutes. Entice them to play the radio or CD wherever they go, to keep their TV, VCR, CD’s and PC’s going constantly in their homes. Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards, talk radio, and Top 40. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogs, and every kind of newsletter and promotional pamphlet offering free products, ESSENTIAL services, and false hopes. In their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return angry, exhausted, and disquieted. Don’t let them stop to see nature and reflect on God’s wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and suggestive movies. And when they do meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in socializing, gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions. Let them be involved in good causes, but crowd their lives with so many ‘good causes’ that they do not have time for church activities. Soon they will be sacrificing their health, family, and spirituality for the “good of the cause.”
You can see the emptiness of life’s pursuits. Qohelet had fallen pray to Satan’s scheme and by the time he realized the emptiness of it all, he had wasted the best years of his life:
“Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it (Eccl 12:6).”
It is funny how old age can often put proper perspective on life. Qohelet realized that he had wasted the best years of his life -- on himself! Here was a man who had it all, yet had nothing. His final conclusion is this – “To honor God and keep his commands, this is what man is all about (Eccl 12:13).” So don’t try to find happiness in life. To try and “find happiness” is a self-centered dead end. Instead, try to find God, and happiness will find you.