And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. ~ Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, NASB
Chasing rainbows. Some days, many days, that is what I feel that I’m doing. Often times that is exactly what I am doing.
Contentment is wanting what I have and having an attitude of thanksgiving for the grace that has been poured upon me. But it isn’t complacency. It isn’t laziness. This is where I get tripped up. How do I live in godly contentment and still press on toward that which Christ has already laid hold of for me? I do I labor tirelessly in the areas in which I’ve been gifted and called and yet not grow tired or frustrated, feeling like I’m getting nowhere fast?
Perhaps the key was up there near the beginning—an attitude of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving implies that there is One to whom I am thankful. And maybe that gratitude isn’t simply for the ‘stuff’ I have, because, as the great king noted in Ecclesiastes, all of the pleasure resulting from his labor became to him “vanity and striving after wind.” Chasing rainbows.
Ecclesiastes is an interesting read. It mirrors the rollercoaster of life with great highs of success, and low valleys of emptiness. Through the poetry of Solomon, one tastes life in its reality. I work hard. In the end, I keep nothing. I fill my heart with pleasure. It is vanity. All things come in seasons. Ultimately all things will end.
Where is contentment in all of this? What did the wise preacher discover in his great dip into philosophy? Chapter twelve closes with this:
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
Interesting, isn’t it? In all his search of happiness, for meaning, and for fulfillment, Solomon concludes that all of those pursuits are empty without the fear of God. More striking, that it is only through fearing God that one can be satisfied.
How does that connect with gratitude? God has revealed himself to me—to all people, if they will listen. The striving after happiness, this forever chasing rainbows, it doesn’t have to be vanity. With him, there is meaning and purpose. In him there is completeness and fulfillment.
How can I not be content with that?