Ecclesiastes 1-3

Chasing the Wind.

“I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done in the world. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. Everything under the sun is meaningless, like chasing the wind.” ­– Ecclesiastes 1:12-14 NLT

Chasing the wind. Futility. Vanity. Meaninglessness. These are just a few of the words the wise man Solomon uses to describe life. At first glance, you would think these are surprising words coming from the pen of a man who seemingly had it all – health, wealth, wisdom, success, fame, and the respect and admiration of men near and far. But Solomon was human. He may have been rich, but he was still susceptible to the conditions that plague all mankind – fear of man, the desire for more, discontentment, dissatisfaction, jealousy, and the ever-present reality of sin. Solomon didn’t live in a vacuum. He was surrounded by individuals who tested and tried him, sought to defeat him, played up to him just to get something out of him, lived off of him, and revealed the worst about him. In other words, Solomon lived in a fallen world. He may have been king of the people of God, but his life was not that much different than yours or mine. And when he looked at life from his own human vantage point, things could begin to look dim indeed. He could become disappointed and disillusioned.

But the book of Ecclesiastes is really designed to give the reader a God-centered perspective. It shows the futility of life when viewed from the vantage point of self. If we view life from our limited perspective, we will constantly find ourselves in a state of confusion. This life does not make sense. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. We can work hard all our lives and end up with nothing to show for it in the end. Life is not always fair. Justice doesn’t always seem to win out in the end. The unjust do not always seem to get their just desserts. In fact, many of the most wicked in this world seem to get away with murder – literally. Evil men rise to power and grow wealthy as they abuse and exploit their own people. Corrupt corporate executives get filthy rich while their investors lose everything. Injustice and inequity are everywhere.

But one of the phrases Solomon uses over and over again is “under the sun.” He is basically referring to life on the planet earth. It refers to a temporal mindset that can easily focus on the horizontal and leave out the vertical. Rather than living life with a God-centered worldview, we become fixated on a self-centered, me-focused worldview. It becomes life as I see it – limited, myopic, and incapable of seeing the bigger picture. One of the recurring themes of Ecclesiastes seems to be that life without God lacks real substance. There is no real value or permanence to it all. It’s like a vapor or fog that is here one minute, then gone the other. It’s transitory and futile. Solomon had all that life had to offer. But he seemed to know that all the wealth in the world was going to satisfy him in the end. You can’t take it with you. And you could lose it all in the blink of an eye. Years of hard work and labor could be easily squandered, stolen, or wind up never delivering what you thought they would. It’s the house that’s never clean. The yard that continues to need mowing. The bills that are never finished being paid. The pain that never goes away. The hurt that never seems to get healed.

Solomon put it this way: ” …as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere” (Ecclesiastes 2:11 NLT). But in the midst of all the doom and gloom, there is good news. God is in control. He has a bigger and much larger perspective. He views life from a better vantage point. Solomon says, “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT). We can’t see what God can see. We don’t know what He knows. We aren’t privy to His plans. He doesn’t consult or seek our approval for His actions. For Solomon it was a simple as, “I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose in this is that people should fear him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14 NLT).

Life is like chasing the wind, but only if you choose to ignore God’s bigger plan. When we leave Him out of the equation, nothing adds up. It doesn’t make sense. Nothing works. Nothing. No amount of money can make us happy. Nothing we can purchase or own can fulfill us. Nothing we eat or drink can fully satisfy us. But God can. It is a life lived without a God-centered perspective that ends up being like chasing the wind. But when we keep God at the focus of life and His will as the motivation for our obedience, life becomes meaning-full. It becomes rich, complete, fulfilling, satisfying, and worth living.

Father, help me to keep You at the center of my thoughts. Give me a growing You-centeredness instead of a me-centeredness. Open my eyes to Your divine perspective. Help me see life from Your higher vantage point instead of my earth-bound one. You are in control. You have a plan. Never let me forget that. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org