In case you haven’t noticed, we are living in a world of weary people. Folks desire the simple life but, instead, find themselves striving and stressed. Ironically, this seems to be most apparent during this season of peace and good will toward men. We think it is necessary to buy everyone the perfect present. We have to make great grandma’s Christmas candy and it just won’t be Christmas unless we put out every single decoration and lighted whatnot that we own.
Maybe, you think you’re just stressed because of the season and, when it’s over, you’ll be okay. You forget that you were just as dissatisfied with the way life was going back in July as you are now.
The problem you’re having is nothing new. The struggle for fulfillment is pretty much the theme of Ecclesiastes. King Solomon was the richest, wisest, and most accomplished man around and he had this to say about life.
All things are full of weariness; – Ecclesiastes 1:8
He was weary with his life.
the eye is not satisfied with seeing, not the ear filled with hearing. – Ecclesiastes 1:8
He was unsatisfied and struggled with contentment.
there is nothing new under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 1:9
He was bored.
See, nothing much has changed. If we are honest, we tend to be a weary, unsatisfied, bored people.
Maybe you feel that way. You go through the daily tasks. You do what you are supposed to do. But, at the end of the day, you just feel like you’re missing something. Life seems complicated and you long for something, well, less. Something simple. The irony is that, in your search for simple, you add more stuff. You think you need more organization, so you buy a new app for your smart phone. Nothing says simple like something homemade so you pull out the cook books looking for something. Forget the fact that cooking stresses you out.
You think you need to read another book.
Follow another blog.
Find another hobby.
Before you know it, your search for simple has become anything but simple.
Believe me, I know. I have been seeking simple for months. I haven’t completely found it, but I did discover a huge clue right here in the book of Ecclesiastes.
I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after the wind. – Ecclesiastes 1:14
All is vanity. Fleeting. Here today and gone tomorrow.
Striving after the wind. Grasping for things we can’t keep. Desperately reaching for things only to have them slip through our fingers.
The key words in that verse, however, are under the sun.
All of the above descriptions (weary, unsatisfying, boring, vain) describe a life lived under the sun. This is a phrase used to describe a life lived apart from God or his leading. Solomon wasn’t saying that all of life was vanity and striving. He was saying that all life lived apart from God was vanity and striving.
So, what was missing? King Solomon had wealth and women and fame and education and possessions. He had everything that he could provide for himself and, yet, something was missing. There was this elusive thing which he could not give to himself.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment. – Ecclesiastes 2:24-25
A life lived apart from God is an exhausted and unfulfilled life.
The first step to a simple life is to replace our striving with joy. And, oddly enough, the key to the simple life is more. More of him.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy. – Psalm 16:11