“I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless.”
—Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 (NIV).
The best feature of Ecclesiastes is its realness. It doesn’t pull any punches regarding a fact every human being knows all too well. Life is meaningless.
Imagine for a moment you’re the king of one of the most powerful kingdoms and you’re testing out this fact—in every way time allows—and you find out what we all think we know only too well.
Life replete with “things” and all manner of experiences is pretty empty and shallow. ‘Mate, it sounds hopeless, this “life” gig,’ barks the person hearing these words of mine.
But, as we know, this hopeless and meaningless existence means something only in the context of the Creator of it all. And how we forget it.
We lose our peace and joy at a moment’s notice and are bewildered at the grappling of things.
Party after event after joy unceasing, and still we scratch our heads wondering what on earth we do it all for. Everyone else looks like they’re having a ball; why not we? (The truth is everyone’s in the same place—we just lie about it.)
Cheated is how we rightly and appropriately feel when we “do” the pleasure only to not feel the pleasure. Then follows a whole raft of loneliness, sadness, depression etc—even anger—because, quite frankly, we feel robbed of what is undeniably ours.
We’re missing something. It’s something so vital, the very experience of life pales into insignificance in comparison.
Pleasures, all of them—devoid of God and our thankfulness for the simplest of them—run a far second to nil and lack with the Presence of God. People might wonder why Christians say grace before meals. Consuming food ordinarily brings us great joy. Yet, taste without thanks is worse than shallow. This is an undeniable fact. No wonder there’s a plethora of eating disorders about; eating, eating and more eating is meaningless—until we realise the role of eating. It’s to fuel our bodies. It’s not about making us feel good.
God has a role for all pleasures. That is that we enjoy them, only to a point. Excess of pleasure is a bondage we all fall for the moment we take too much.
Pleasures fit into a context when God’s about, and without him we’ll search high and low, never quite finding that real sense of pleasure. That sense of inner joy that only God can give.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.