Our Deepest Desires Will Never Be Fulfilled in This World
King Solomon was an ancient ruler of unparalleled power, wealth, and wisdom. He lived a life of luxury and pleasure - there was nothing he did not have, and yet he did not hide the emptiness of it all.
He famously said, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
As we approach a new year, we tend to reflect on what we've done, and where we'd like to go.
This is the season of goal setting, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but we would do well to heed Solomon's warning: our deepest desires will never be fulfilled in this world.
A godless world leaves its adherents with two options: find meaning in things "under the sun" or give up on finding meaning at all - with both paths leading to despair.
With every burnout, meltdown, or celebrity suicide, the bankruptcy of secularism becomes more evident.
In Jesus, we have access to deep rest, real meaning, and transcendent purpose. Yet, we chase after fleeting pleasures and material gain like everyone else, leaving us anxious, overworked, and restless. Sadly, many of us are as disillusioned as our secular neighbors.
So what's the solution?
St. Augustine believed it was about properly ordering our loves. In his famous book 'Confessions' he wrote, "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee."
It seems that anxiety is not a strictly modern phenomenon, but rather a universal human struggle.
Before he died, Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, said, "We are here to make a dent in the universe."
He vocalized what we all feel in our bones - that life has a transcendent purpose. Until we discover what it is, we feel anxious and restless. We set goals and work furiously to meet them because we want our lives to count.
In John 15:5, Jesus liberates us from our restless hearts, as He says,
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
Jesus' words are great news because there is simply no use in striving. All that's required of me is to abide, which the dictionary defines as to wait. Waiting isn't easy because it means putting your hope in someone else, but Jesus makes it clear that if He doesn't do it, no one can. So if you want to make a difference, wait.
As 2020 approaches, set some great goals. You should get in shape, write that book, strengthen your marriage, start that business - just don't put your hope in these things.
Earthly goals, assuming they're not sinful, make great gifts, but lousy gods.
Knowing this will satisfy our deepest desires and give us rest for our restless hearts.