Summary: part 2 looks at Solomon's attempts to find joy through other means.

Pursuing . . .

Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:26

July 19, 2015

It’s hard to believe that it was only 15 days ago when we celebrated the 4th of July. We know the Declaration of Independence declared declares we are endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For many people we take off on that journey, pursuing life, liberty and happiness. I wonder how well we’re doing on that. Are we really experiencing life, liberty and especially happiness? But let’s change happiness to joy.

I think the pursuit of happiness is in full swing, but I’m not sure it’s going to well.

After he won his third Super Bowl, local fan favorite, Tom Brady was interviewed by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes. During the interview this is what Brady said —

“Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, ‘God, it's got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn't, this can't be what it's all cracked up to be.”

Steve Kroft then asked him: “What's the answer?”

Brady said, “I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find.”

It wasn’t a flippant response. The facial expressions and the tone of his voice underlined the deep desire for Brady to find the real purpose for his life – the answer that will bring him true and lasting fulfillment – not fleeting successes and thirst for something more.

A famous fashion model, Kylie Bisutti was interviewed after winning a contest with 10,000 other women to be the cover image for Victoria Secret. It made her rich and famous. A year later she said, "I finally achieved my biggest dream, the dream I always wanted. But when I finally got there, it wasn't all I thought it would be." What did she do? At the pinnacle of her fame, she quit! She is finding fulfillment as a Christ follower.

It's not just the rich and famous who aren't finding much satisfaction with all their money and fame. Average Americans appear to be equally inept at finding fulfillment.

Newly married couples were asked what they think their greatest joy in life will be and by an overwhelming margin they reply "raising our kids." Then they are surveyed 5 years later with one or two kids running around and they report pretty low levels of happiness. How often have we heard that and maybe even lived that?

We were told, if we worked more and got that next raise we'd be satisfied. But we weren't. Everyday we’re told if we buy that new product we will find fulfillment — so we buy it and then discover we're still unfulfilled. We think if we change jobs or move to another place in the country we'll find happiness. We disrupt our families and make those changes only to realize a year or two later that the new job is a lot like the old job and the weather is not as nice.

We are looking at the book of Ecclesiastes for the next 6 weeks and it’s not an overly optimistic piece of literature. On the surface, Solomon argued that, at least on the surface, life is kind of like those crazy roundabouts that are popping up all over the place. I don’t like them. They’re aesthically pleasing, but dangerous to navigate.

We can drive on them and realize we are driving around and around and around. The reality that life is like a roundabout didn't stop Solomon from trying to pursue happiness through external means.

We all want to find purpose in life, we need a reason to live, a reason to get up and keep going and that was true of this man who had it all. So Solomon picked 3 of the most common ways people use to find fulfillment and then he ran after them as hard as he could.

He tried Intellectualism. In Ecclesiastes 1:16-18, Solomon wrote ~

16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”

17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Solomon tried to find fulfillment through his mind. Wisdom is learning about life, how it all works and fits together. He thought he would find fulfillment there but it too was "a chasing after the wind."

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