Have you ever wondered about the meaning of life? Does meaning come from education? Self-improvement? Endless pleasure? It seems like we are constantly striving for something better. We have the idea that contentment comes from having more. Are we really better off with more money, culture, and affluence? Or more exercise, more friends, and more schooling?
Last night at church we were studying the book of Ecclesiastes. Centuries ago, King Solomon was the wealthiest man on Earth. In fact, he was the richest man who ever lived. Everything in his kingdom was made from gold. He had thousands of servants, hundreds of wives, and assets in the billions. He built lush gardens, enormous palaces, and had a convoy of horses. But Solomon was still discontent. No sum of money could bring him joy. No amount of knowledge could stabilize him.
It seems like in my life I am always waiting for something better around the corner. Once I’m done with college then I’ll be happy, or once I’m married then I’ll be satisfied. Nice cars, big houses, or tons of money in the savings account will never bring happiness or peace.
During the church service last night I looked out the window and saw an elderly man walking down the street, pushing a shopping cart. He stopped right outside the church and started digging through the garbage can. I thought it was ironic that just as we were discussing the issues associated with wealth, and the emptiness that comes along with success, another person was at the other end of the spectrum. I don’t know this man’s background, but I do know that I’ve never been in the position of having to dig through a trash can. It made me stop and think about how blessed I am. I have a house to live in. I have enough food to eat. I have a car to drive. I have wonderful friends. I have the opportunity to attend college. Wow! God has given me so much, but I always want more. I think a cute, new outfit or a full tank of gas will give me confidence. Will I have a secure job? Am I smart enough to finish school?
But really I should be asking different questions. Does my life please God? Am I yielding to His will? Am I a witness of Christ’s love?
I want to find contentment in the presence of God.