I am hungry, and I cannot find bread that satisfies. I have tried many different kinds of “bread”…
I have tried the bread of pleasure and entertainment, one round after another, but the brief satisfaction evaporated like the dew. I tried art, music, literature, and the supposedly high things of culture, but I found no lasting satisfaction there. I tried the bread of work worthy in the eyes of men, and hoped that accomplishment would win an identity for me that would meet my need, but none of that satisfies any longer. I thought surely the bread of wealth would assuage my hunger, but material possessions and a comfortable lifestyle left me wanting something, something else. I tried the bread of philosophy, studying human nature and all angles of the issues and problems of life, debating and discussing, and discussing and debating in never-ending circles. I could find in philosophy no peace.
I tried communing with Nature, and sought bread in the beauty of creation; I wandered by the seashores, and climbed the mountains, asking, “Is it there, is it there?” But, my voice only cried back at me in long, hollow echoes, and I hunger still. Surely human fellowship – love relationships, the joys of family life – would make me whole, I reasoned. But even that, even the best it could offer, was not enough. I tried the bread of social service, of being a “good person”, giving of my time and energy to meet mankind’s needs, but all my good deeds left me still empty. “Perhaps change will feed me. That’s it!” I thought. A new environment, a new situation - I’ll quit my job, I’ll move to a new town, I’ll break out of this marriage and try a fresh start with someone else. Or maybe following these new ideas and views about it all, these innovative breakthroughs - a revolution altogether, surely that will produce paradise for me…
So many messages pounding at the door of my mind, all promising satisfaction! Yet all these “breads” could only go so far, and no farther, to assuage my soul-hunger. That nameless inner longing remains.
Is this your experience? There are certain things for which we are all looking. Where is peace, joy, happiness, security, significance? Where is life, in a very real sense, worthy of the name?
Many centuries ago, a powerful king, renown in all the world for his wisdom, wrote a lengthy treatise as a result of his own personal quest for value. He had determined to seek until he discovered what is of real value in life, and he had all the resources available for his search that any human being could possibly desire. He wrote in descriptive detail about the myriad avenues, proposed
by humanity throughout its history, which he pursued “under the sun”.
After long years of the most diligent searching for some fixed unchanging value that could serve as a proper basis for living, that great seeker felt that all he had tried had been like “grasping for wind’ – it was all elusive, transitory, fleeting. The Preacher, as he called himself when he compiled his conclusions, could not, after all, claim to have discovered the answer for which he had sought, but he wrote a very telling statement. He succinctly concluded that “the whole duty of man is reverence for God and obeying Him.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
The very wise man had not found the certainty he yearned for “under the sun”, that is, in this life. He was compelled by his observations, therefore, to seek the value he longed for “above the sun”, so to speak.
Tolstoy said a few days before his death: “The modern world has temporarily lost God, and without Him cannot live.” It seemed prophetic. We are a world that has lost God - and we are a broken, bleeding world. Mankind has chosen to “go it alone”, without God. We find self-sufficiency a better way, more attractive, and so the independent human race leaves out God. And because it leaves out God, its Creator, all that our choice can essentially offer us is a mirage.
My life is a journey. You and I are on a pilgrimage, we are sojourners. We entered this world, began this journey, and we’re all heading toward a destination. We don’t need to have traveled very far along before the rose-colored glasses we may have started off with don’t work anymore. We begin to see that life has difficulties along the way, and soon enough we grow tired. We look around in this desert, hoping to find water to refresh us, and, thankfully, we see in the distance what appears to be a supply. Ah, over there! But when we finally arrive “there”, we find no water - no water at all. It was just a delusion shimmering in the sands. Over and over the hopeful thing that we seemed close enough to grasp eluded us, escaped us. How long can we go on and on and on, thus bewildered and mocked by mirages?
Nothing less than God Himself can fill our souls, for the soul’s capacity was designed by God for Himself. My soul belongs to God. He alone can satisfy in that realm.
If I am at long last realizing that all my efforts to find the meaning that I have so long sought have resulted in absolute futility, that I am empty – and as desperately so as a pauper, then I may be on the verge of a most momentous threshold! I just may have found the entrance to the life I so achingly seek.
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