When you battle the flu like I did a couple weeks ago – or any kind of worse diseases like cancer or CF or MS or cluster headaches or anything else – there are times when you just feel horrible and want to be put out of your misery as you lay there in bed or on the couch. I was sitting in Starbucks the other day and I found out that the manager has MS. She told me her 3-yr old son has already learned to be sensitive and recognize when mommy’s in severe pain and having a hard time coping. It’s at those times of pain and illness, I think you begin to look at your life and start to consider what’s really important to you – what gives meaning to you. All of us are involved in a lot of things in our lives. Some of those things we enjoy doing. Others we don’t. But we occupy our time and energy with all kinds of activity. And when you’re feeling sick or in pain, you think “Why am I doing all this stuff? Why am I involved in all these activities?” So, with that in mind, let me ask a question: What gives you meaning… what makes your life have meaning or be meaningful? For some people it’s their job/work, or their family, or having God’s approval for whatever they do.
King Solomon writing to us in the OT Book of Ecclesiastes shares with us all the things that he undertook or became involved in so that he could find the meaningful life he was looking for:
- Cheering himself with wine
- Embracing folly
- Undertaking great construction projects: houses, gardens, parks, reservoirs
- Amassing great herds & flocks
- Amassing an army of servants & slaves
- Amassing great treasures of gold/silver
- A harem of 1,000
He says that he denied himself nothing that his eyes desired. That sounds like a man out-of-control, don’t you think? In the end, he didn’t find any fulfillment. Everything was meaningless to him. “So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.” I think about that verse and I begin to realize that Solomon’s missing something. Solomon is missing something very important that brings meaning and fulfillment in life. He never talks about meaningful relationships. Did you notice that? There’s no “US” in all of this. There’s only “I” and “ME” and what HE did and how it affected HIM. I believe that we’re hearing from the heart of a lonely, almost isolated man. He doesn’t talk about his wife. He doesn’t talk about his family, his kids. He doesn’t talk about love. He doesn’t talk about unselfish, sacrifice. He really missed the boat!
Each one of us needs to reflect on what gives true meaning to our lives before you spend your youth, time, and money on things that do not satisfy.