Eat, Drink, and Be Merry — for Tomorrow We Die?

Douglas VanBronkhorst

READ : Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Laughter is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish? (v. 2, niv)

The State of Denial is a popular place, especially for those avoiding hard questions. But denial by itself isn’t much fun, so it’s usually accompanied by a feverish pursuit of pleasure. The Teacher says he tried this. He lived for the moment, filling his life with activity centered on him. He bought things, sought physical delights, and used others for his needs. He was good at it. The bumper sticker on his chariot proudly declared, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” This strategy did not work, even at his extreme level of success. So the Teacher concludes, “When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (2:11).

It’s not true that all hedonists experience despair. Some keep denial going to the very end. Of course, it helps if they don’t run out of money or good health! In any case, the Teacher provides an intervention, confronting us with the impotence of pleasure to deal with our mortality and need for purpose. His goal is to expose the folly of thinking that fun and games can make life worth living.

PRAYER

Father, thank you for all good things. May we not use pleasure to avoid facing important questions. Amen.