Life Can Be Empty


Are you searching for meaning but finding life empty?  Can you relate to the man who said, “All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied!” (Ecclesiastes 6:7)  You are not alone.  For centuries man, in all his pursuits, has found life to be empty.

Look, for instance, at the journal of one man who wrote about that emptiness.  This man was not a cynic, or one who thought life had given him a raw deal; he was the wealthiest man in the world in his day, and he was considered by many to be the wisest man also.  (His biographer goes to great length to tell of his riches–see 1 Kings 10:14-29).  His name was Solomon and he was the King of ancient Israel.  His journal is contained in the  Bible in the book called Ecclesiastes.  Consider everything this wealthy king pursued in life:

First, he pursued wisdom.  About that pursuit he wrote, “I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done.  I have seen all the things done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind . . . I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, but I learned that this, too, is chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:13-17)  Have you ever chased the wind?  That is how meaningless a life of pursuing wisdom can seem!  One is never wise enough.

Second, this wealthy king pursued pleasure; he sought pleasure in alcohol, laughter, great projects and sexual fantasies.  He claimed to deny himself nothing his eyes desired, and he was rich enough to afford such indulgences.  He said of that quest, “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.” (2:1)

The third thing king Solomon endeavored to find meaning in was hard work.  His conclusion?  “So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.  All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (2:17)

Since these things were meaningless, he sought fulfillment in riches, and of those he had an abundance.  But he discovered that seeking meaning in riches, means never having enough riches.  “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.  This too is meaningless.” (5:10)  Can you sense his frustration in these words?  Have you expressed the same frustrations?

Wealth, pleasure, money and wisdom do not satisfy, so maybe morality does.  Solomon pursued a life of morality and concluded that it was a waste of time.  “All share a common destiny–the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad. . . .  As it is with the good man, so with the sinner.” (9:2)  His point was that everyone is going to die anyway, so morality is a waste of time.  “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth; righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve.  This too, I say, is meaningless!” (8:14)

Finally, when all else had failed, Solomon sought meaning in health and exercise.  But his conclusion about that was no more promising than the conclusions of his other quests.  “Youth and vigor are meaningless.” (11:10)

Solomon understood a grave reality.  He played the game for all his bounteous worth, and he discovered, in the end, that the game was meaningless.  Life under the sun is empty.  “Meaningless, meaningless!  Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.” (12:8 and 1:2)  Harsh words from a man you and I would consider to have it all.

But did you notice the limitation of his pursuits?  Everything he tried was “under the sun” or “on earth.”  The implication of Solomon’s journal is that meaning in life must be found beyond the sun.  And this is the conclusion at which he arrived.  The end of this man’s journal says, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep his commands, for this is the whole duty of man.” (12:13)  To fear God means to have a relationship with him based, not on our terms, but on who he is.

Where are you seeking meaning to life?  In what are you trying to find fulfillment?  In Wisdom?  Pleasure?  Hard Work?  Wealth?  Morality?  Good Health?  The man who sought meaning in all these things, and who had the resources to do it to the maximum, concluded that life under the sun is empty.  Only a relationship with the Creator God is ultimately satisfying.  Jesus said, “No one can come to the Father (i.e. God) except through me.” (John 14:6) and “I came that you might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)  In Jesus, life is full; in every other pursuit, life is empty.

Those who know Jesus have experienced a God-given fullness, joy and meaning in life through Jesus Christ.  If you would like to discover a life that is more than “chasing after the wind,” come to the one who created life; come to the one who is the life; come to Jesus.

You can hear my sermon on this topic here.  Look for the message titled “Chasing After the Wind.”


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  1. […] Solomon addressed this topic in his book called Ecclesiastes.  To read more about it check out my article called “Life Can Be Empty.” […]

  2. This was really good.

  3. I read a lot of blogs, articles, and such. I rarely read anything that even comes close to explaining life without Christ is altogether vanity. This post was so good!

  4. So true, so very true. The reason people claim that life sucks, is because of this very reason. Until they examine the truth and except the truth, which is, the Living Word of God. All they will ever see is an illusion.

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