"Yet 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." Ecclesiastes 2:11
You would think Solomon would be happy. After all, he had it all-money, fame, power, a vast harem, an enormous kingdom, ships that brought him riches from foreign shores, a nation at peace, the respect and admiration of his fellow monarchs, a temple that was the wonder of his day, and the affection of a grateful nation. Really, what more could a man ask for?
Good question. Evidently whatever he lacked wasn’t in the material realm, because he quite simply had reached the top of the heap. There weren’t any other mountains to climb. It is reminiscent of Alexander the Great who died at age thirty-three having conquered the known world.
What had Solomon gained? In the end, nothing. It was all vanity, emptiness, and chasing after the wind. And that brought him back to God-which is where all of Solomon’s journeys eventually ended up.
We often say, “Jesus is all I need.” But you will never know if Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. When Jesus is all you have, then you discover that Jesus is all you need.
The more I think about that, the more profound it seems to me. For most of us, “Jesus is all I need” is little more than a Christian cliche, a bumper sticker slogan and nothing more. But recently I visited a friend who is dying of cancer. There is no hope for her recovery, a fact that is completely clear in her mind. With a wry smile she said, “Jesus has been so good to me. If He wants to take me home now, I’m ready to go. Whatever the Lord wants is all right with me.”
Where does that kind of faith come from?
Ask the single moms; they know all about it. Ask the man who just lost his job; he knows about it. Ask the woman who is struggling with the shattering pain of divorce. She has learned the truth over and over again. Ask that young girl whose father died when she was fifteen. Or the man whose wife has Alzheimer’s disease. Or the young couple who lost their first child.
Gordon MacDonald said, “I have discovered that your theology is only as deep as your pain.” Pity those who have an easy life. They never really know Jesus.
If pain has any advantage, it is this: When we hurt, we find out if what we believe is really true. Many can testify through their tears: “When everything else was gone, I turned to Jesus and He was still there.”
Is Jesus all you need? Yes, but you’ll never know for sure until Jesus is all you have. And when Jesus is all you have, to your utter surprise you’ll discover that everything you always heard is true. Jesus is all you need.
Lord of my life, may I never expect to find lasting happiness in the world, but only in you. Amen.