Focal passage: Ecclesiastes 1:12-15; 2:18-26
I was only six years old, but I remember the horror of the moment. My brother went missing at a racing event my family attended. He slipped away from my dad amidst a crowd of thousands by the end of the race. When my dad realized what happened, he frantically alerted us. Fear struck our hearts, and we began searching relentlessly. We told every track official, every security guard and every concession worker about the situation. Eventually, my brother was found safe. We were grateful and relieved. Although it took only a few minutes to locate him, we were determined to search for him all night if necessary.
Sadly, many people spend their lives with that same kind of relentless pursuit of all kinds of things without searching for and finding their ultimate purpose in life. Like my family and me searching for my brother that night, we search for purpose in pleasure, work and riches. But instead of discovering substantive meaning, we find vanity and are left asking, “What’s the use?”
Ecclesiastes teaches us that true meaning in life can be found only in God.
The Preacher, King Solomon, described this way of pursuing meaning apart from God by experience. He himself “applied his heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven” and found that “everything … is vanity and a striving after the wind” (1:13-14). He learned that searching for purpose apart from God is ultimately futile.
If one seeks purpose in work and the accumulation of wealth, it is vanity because the gain will be left to someone else who may even be a fool (2:18-21). Attempting to find ultimate purpose in mere toil will result in grief and sorrow (2:22-23). Thus, Solomon learned that God gave work not to make us despair, but to enjoy it as a good gift from Him (2:24-26). We find purpose when we seek it in God.
Apart from God’s grace, we are all sinners pursuing purpose apart from Him. But through faith in Christ, we may be saved and come to know God’s eternal purpose for us – to glorify Him by enjoying Him. Just as my family and I pursued my lost brother that night he wandered off, may we urgently and intensely pursue God’s purpose by relentlessly seeking Him in faith.