“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” vs14
Read Ecclesiastes with the conclusion in mind. He says, “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: Fear God and keep His commands, because this is man’s all (Eccl 12:13).” Everything but obedience to Christ – faith working by love – is utterly vain. We are eternal, and we CANNOT live for something temporary and be happy. We cannot live for ourselves and be content! The only peace God has is eyes focused on Jesus Christ, doing His will by the Spirit: Everything else is vain.
1 Have you experienced the vanity of life? Do you know what it’s like to chase the wind and reap the whirlwind… to live for yourself – to make yourself happy – and come up empty (Hosea 8:7)? Such it is with us, as we think ourselves smarter than God and try to live our own way. He says, “You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why? This is the declaration of the LORD of Hosts. Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house (Hag 1:9).” We tried as hard as we could to make ourselves happy – chasing spouses and riches, giving ourselves to ease and pleasure, living like Christ was second and we were first. It was utterly unfulfilling BECAUSE it was disobedience.
Do you remember Jonah? He had a job to do, nothing could stop it, and so do we. Jonah could not be happy in unbelief, and neither can we, lusting after the things of this world, as if Christ is insufficient. “Then God asked Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?’ ‘Yes’, he replied. ‘It is right. I’m angry enough to die (Jonah 4:11)!” This happens with the married and the single, the rich and the poor! Everyone wants what they do not have, contentment is abandoned, and we try to find peace where there is none in wicked unbelief.
2 Look to Christ, if you’ll be happy. Do His will, and you will have peace. He has promised, “I am the bread of life,’ Jesus told them. ‘No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again (John 6:35).” He proves it when the gospel comes to us with power. Until then, we are wearied and burdened, but when we taste forgiveness and drink of His Spirit, then we have peace that surpasses understanding. As we keep our eyes on Christ, returning to Him again and again, He faithfully fills us up, so we have no need. This is the only way to be happy – to find your all in Jesus Christ, believing the gospel of His love and doing His will.
3 Many try to be happy half way! They come to Christ, but don’t follow Him. They know the gospel, but they don’t get it into their heart, daily. Therefore, they live off of yesterday’s bread, which breeds worms (Ex 16:20). They remember Christ from afar, like Peter before his denial – being close enough to know Him, but not close enough to enjoy His presence. Mark 16:54, “Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the high priest’s courtyard. He was sitting with the temple police, warming himself by the fire.”
Christ is “at a distance” because of our sin. We think we can get Him later, or we think that we’ve sinned too much: we think that we can live without Him! Oh, how HORRIBLE this is: it is a wasteland and a howling wilderness (Deut 32:10); it is the flesh riled up, the Devil tempting, and it is sin’s bitterness rather than Christ’s sweetness!
We must avoid it and return – confessing our sins, believing that He’s able to forgive and cleanse. Do not be half-way but wholehearted, and you’ll find the peace you’re looking for. He says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).”
There’s no other way to be happy but Christ crucified believed and walked in.