As a Youth Group, we have recently started studying Ecclesiastes. One of the author’s main themes is that life apart from God is meaningless, and a phrase that he uses often to describe our attempts to find meaning without God is “a chasing after the wind.” Have you ever tried to catch the wind before? It is a useless effort, because it is impossible to chase the wind and actually catch it. In the same way, Solomon talks about several different things that we as humans pursue instead of God and how these are all vain pursuits and a chasing after the wind. This phrase is used 7 times in the first 4 chapters, 2 of which we will examine below.
First, in chapter 2, he says that indulging yourself with pleasure is as meaningless as chasing after the wind. This is Solomon’s personal testimony. He is saying here in this passage that he wanted to get the most out of his life by filling himself with pleasure. He sought to fill himself up with wine, he built houses and planted vineyards for himself. He made gardens and parks and planted fruit trees and pools. He had slaves, which was a sign of wealth, and the most livestock out of anybody that had ever lived in Jerusalem. He had an abundance of money, and he even had personal singers. If anybody ever asked “What does it look like to make it?” This is it. Solomon is the prime example of what it looked like to have it all. He did not refuse himself any pleasure, but he gave himself whatever he desired. But what did Solomon learn from that experience? He says in verse 11 “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Nothing was gained from filling himself with pleasure, all of the women and toys and money didn’t actually accomplish anything for him. What pleasures in life are you tempted to indulge in the most? Maybe its shopping. Or binge-watching sports or tv. Sometimes, we chase after things that might provide an instant gratification but in the end the consequences are devastating, such as Esau trading his birthright for a cup of stew. We will not accomplish or gain anything for ourselves by indulging ourselves in pleasure. It will always leave us feeling more empty and more unfulfilled.
Second, in chapter 4 verse 4, Solomon writes “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” Have you ever noticed that your attempts to find meaning in things apart from God often stem from your envy of other people. We often attempt to change things about ourselves because we envy what other people have. You might wear your hair differently because somebody else was doing it. Or somebody else has a really cool car or house and you just want that and you will do anything to have it. You might see someone else’s post on social media and think “I wish my life was as fun or as cool as that or I wish I was as pretty or as handsome as them.” But what people post on social media are just highlights of the good parts of their lives. You want what they have but in reality their life isn’t as great as what they say it is. We always want to be like someone else or have what someone else has but this is what Solomon calls a chasing after the wind. It doesn’t accomplish anything. God created you how you are and he has given you what you have and we must be thankful and learn to be content.
So in closing I encourage you to consider this question: In what ways have you been chasing after the wind? Are you pursuing things that are meaningless, or are you following Jesus and chasing after him? Chase after Jesus, because he is the only one that can truly satisfy the longings of our hearts.