Summary: Shows the different ways that men try to find fulfillment and how all of these ways leave the person miserable.
From the beginning when Adam and Eve first sinned by eating from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, mankind has been separated from God. But the problem is that man was created for the distinct purpose of having an intimate relationship with God. But God is holy and cannot have fellowship with what is unholy.
So man tries very hard, as a rule, to do what is right. But they always seem to fail. Even St. Paul said in
And he even goes on to say in
Man, apart from his relationship with God, that is, controlled by sin, is ultimately miserable. He struggles so hard to find what is missing but he cannot find it. Many people try things like drinking, and drugs, and promiscuous relationships, together with many other things to try to find that peace and happiness, that fulfillment. And then they look at Christians and see that we don’t do all of these “fun” things and they think that we must be miserable because we’re missing out. But they end up saying like St. Paul did, “Oh, what a miserable person I am!” Because they discover that all of these things don’t bring true happiness or fulfillment at all.
Still others try to look for fulfillment in worldly success. They look for their happiness in money, or fame, or a good education and a successful career. They look for fulfillment in places that are not necessarily bad things. But nonetheless they are looking for their fulfillment in houses, cars, clothes, fame, or success. The trouble is that none of those things can bring fulfillment or true happiness.
In 1966, about a year before he died, the brilliant physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer said, "I am a complete failure!" This man had been the director of the Los Alamos Project, a research team that produced the atomic bomb, and he had also served as the head of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Yet, in looking back, he saw his achievements as meaningless. When asked about them, he replied, "They leave on the tongue only the taste of ashes."
The number of people who commit suicide after experiencing the fame and fortune of worldly success is astonishing. Multimillionaire George Vanderbilt killed himself by jumping from a hotel window. Lester Hunt, twice governor of Wyoming before being elected to the U.S. Senate, ended his own life. Actress Marilyn Monroe, writer Ernest Hemingway, and athlete Tony Lazzeri represent a host of highly influential and popular people who became so disenchanted with earthly success that they took their own lives.
Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations. He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. Hannibal, who filled three bushels with the gold rings taken from the knights he had slaughtered, committed suicide by swallowing poison. Napoleon, the feared conqueror, after being the scourge of Europe, spent his last years in banishment.