The Emptiness of the Stomach
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure . . . and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind . . . Ecclesiastes 2:10-11
I can clearly recall the thoughts of my last relapse. Having worked a long run of nights, the insomnia caught up with me. I know what will make me feel better. Once I took the pills, I knew I had made the right choice. This is fantastic. Why did I ever quit? I’m not stopping.
I didn’t stop . . . until long after the pill became a bitter poison in my stomach. The thing that I looked to for comfort and satisfaction enslaved me from the start, and I became willing to give up everything for it. I surrendered to my destructive appetite and found, not satisfaction, but emptiness, despair and misery.
King Solomon, in today’s passage describes a similar experience. Having the resources and ability to indulge in whatever desire he wanted, he did. With a thousand women at his disposal, more alcohol than anyone could ever consume, and immense gold, Solomon pursued satisfaction in his fleshly appetites.
What did he find? All was vanity and a striving after the wind . . . Solomon, who had unlimited access to every desire of his heart, in the end, admitted that he was still empty.
Deep down, we know this to be true. We know that true joy and meaning are not found in food, sex or stuff, but still, we try. I want to lose weight, but right now, I just want to fill my stomach. Later, the emptiness of filling our stomach sets in and we are left only with remorse. We repeatedly surrender long term joy for short term pleasure, betraying our addiction to our flesh’s desires.
Like Solomon, we try, and fail, to find fulfillment in our appetites, but like Solomon, we find only emptiness in our stomachs. This is because we were created to find true joy, not in food, sex or stuff, but in communion with the God who made us. It is only in daily loving and following him that we know lasting satisfaction and joy. Everything else is just emptiness.