Has what you thought you wanted left you wanting?

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Ecclesiastes 2:10-11
Full Text: Ecclesiastes 1-2

NYC | There is no doubt that New York is a great city. John Updike wrote, “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding”, and John Lennon said, “If I’d live in Roman times, I’d have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself.” Yet, why is this so? What makes New York so great? It’s definitely not the cramped living spaces, high cost of living or horrid subway smells. It’s also not the relaxed lifestyle or pleasant weather. So why do 45% of Americans under 35 want to live here [1] and 47 million people worldwide annually want to visit [2]? It’s the shopping, eating, drama, nightlife and entertainment. After all, where else can you get gourmet cuisine from food trucks parked outside the opera house? Yet, no matter what this city offers – Wall Street, Per Se, Broadway, The Metropolitan Club, Saks, Columbia, 30 Rock – every New Yorker eventually asks, “Is this it? Is life nothing more than a series of cool and exclusive events?”

Pleasure | And thus we turn to Ecclesiastes. As Mark Dever has written,  “If the book of Proverbs is about wisdom for people who want success, the book of Ecclesiastes offers wisdom for people who have success. Particularly, it is for individuals who have gotten what they wanted out of life, or at least what they thought they had wanted, and then have found it wanting” [3]. Solomon – on par with the most wealthy and powerful New Yorkers – passionately pursued pleasure: Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure” [4]. Yet, in his seeking, he found that, “all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” [5]. As Jesus later asked, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” [6].

Prayer | Lord, We confess that there is nothing to be gained under the sun. All of our pleasure-seeking in events and clothes and food and shows and power is vanity if we approach them as the means by which to get joy. Rather, you are the joy of our salvation and the end of our seeking. And, in Christ, we have riches forevermore – riches that last beyond the grave because you have conquered death. Therefore, satisfy us in you and you alone. Amen.


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[1] Pew Research.  |  [2] Wikipedia, Tourism in New York City.  |  [3] Mark Dever. The Message of the Old Testament.  |  [4] Ecc. 2:10 ESV  |  [5] Ecc. 2:11 ESV

One Comment to “Has what you thought you wanted left you wanting?”

  1. We Need To Fast.Isa 58:6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wiekcdness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?Isa 58:7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? After reading Isaiah 58, I went back and read the blog for Isaiah 36-41: Misunderstood.You wrote:I find that the lost world around us, misunderstands us as well. The don’t understand what we really believe in. They often think that our salvation somehow comes through a system of rituals and works rather than through our faith in Christ. This is partially because they don’t have the Spirit of God in them to guide and teach them: the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. But, I think it is also the fault of believers. We often don’t express to the world around us the message of love and compassion that Christ offers freely to all who will receive Him.Maybe Isaiah 58:6-7 is why.Maybe there are times when instead of depriving our bodies of food, we should force our bodies to do right.I’m very thankful to all those in our church who have cooked meals for my daughter, and sacrificed their time to take her to chemo & radition.I believe that this is the kind of fast that God wants to see, and this is the kind of fast that the world needs to see Isa 58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.Isa 58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;Isa 58:10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

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