The pursuit of pleasure in our society has reached an Epicurean high. We endlessly grasp for those things that will give us a sense of inward tranquility and happiness. We have largely succeeded. We have more material goods and means of obtaining pleasure than most other countries in the world. So how come our gain largely has led to pain? Why do more people suffer from anxiety, loneliness, and discontentment than at almost any other time in our history? You can’t blame the pandemic. Statistics were already on the rise before that. The pandemic only exacerbated what were already upward trending problems.
The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes exposed the myth that the pursuit of pleasure can fulfill our longing for lasting significance.
The Preacher tried wine, empire building, horticulture, wealth, and entertainment to find something that could fill the human longing for lasting significance. He even engaged in darker ambitions, such as amassing slaves and concubines. You can read about his endeavors in Ecclesiastes 2:1-10.
The Preacher, like many Americans today, attained pleasure. However, also like many Americans today, he said, “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 (Ecclesiastes 2:11).”
His endeavors only had three possible outcomes. He might not see his pursuit materialize and live his life in frustration, He might achieve it but having achieved it become bored and look for something else to satisfy his longing. Or, he might carry it on till day of his death and then realize nothing changes the fact that he is going to die and, his grandiose activity, it will eventually come to nothing. You will not see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.
The pursuit of pleasure will not fill your inbuilt longing for lasting significance, because life in this world is temporal. You will one day leave it. Only One can fill this longing, the same person who created you with this longing, Christ Jesus. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” and “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:19-34)
What current pursuits for pleasure are leaving you feeling empty? How can you focus more on Christ and let him fill this longing in you?