Noah giggled with delight as a bubble danced above his head. He chased it before it burst and then began racing after the bubbles that followed. He was so happy . . . until there were suddenly no more magic rainbow bubbles left. That joyful, innocent glee of a three-year-old was replaced with pouty disappointment.
That moment with one of my friend’s kids reminded me that I also struggle with chasing after the temporary things of the world that only bring fleeting pleasure. I used to dream about the fairytale romance: The Disney princess awaiting her special prince.
Ten years ago, I thought I was in love. After two years, I was given a ring. I got excited thinking about the future, planning our wedding, and imagining what our children would look like.
But that relationship ended suddenly and my world was turned upside down. I was heartbroken, but it did show me how much I had been like my little friend Noah—chasing after the milestones that the world has deemed important. I realized that I was only in love with the idea of love, the idea of marriage.
In Ecclesiastes 6:7, the writer talks about this insatiable longing for what we want, but don’t have. He wisely suggests that we respond by appreciating what we do have, “Better is what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite” (v. 9). It is easy to see what others have and become indignant that God would allow some people to “lack nothing their hearts desire” (v. 2), thinking “But God, what about me?” Not unlike what happens when I look at couples around me and feel jealous.
However, today’s passage reminds me that instead of endlessly pining after what I don’t have, I can learn to embrace how rich this season can be.
For example, my counseling studies have opened doors that have enabled me to meet and care for people from many different cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences. Refugees, drug addicts, homeless men and women, sex workers, victims of abuse and mentally ill—the marginalized people who may feel unworthy and rejected by society. It’s when our love is poured into those who need it most that the light of Christ shines at its brightest.
As I hear the stories of those who are a little harder to love, it also puts my own struggles into perspective, helping me to appreciate the wonderful people and things in my life, rather than focusing on the things I feel as though I’m missing out on.
I still hope to get married someday. It is not wrong to desire things like relationships, but when we seek anything above the love of our Lord, they can easily become idols that take our focus away from Him, and what He might have for us in our current phase of life.
Ecclesiastes 6 paints a bleak picture of the human condition. The writer of this book of wisdom refers to the earthly struggle to satisfy our desires as “chasing after the wind” (v. 9). Perhaps you also find yourself in a place of longing. If so, try to look for the meaningful relationships God has placed you in. We have been made for relationships and it is worth celebrating the joy they bring as you honor the Lord.
—By Deb Fox, Australia
Questions for reflection
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