I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
There was a time when my sole focus in life was pursuing pleasure because I thought that was the most valuable thing. I knew some workaholics who lived to work, but I was never that kind of person. The only fruit of my labor I could identify was that it gave me the ability to afford to pursue those pleasures. I worked in order to live, but living was all about having fun. At some point, all that fun got really old. It was tiring, and I was exhausted, and I knew that there had to be more to life. What I never realized was how momentary that all would be. Years of good times that I cannot even recall in my memory are years that just blew away in the wind.
I can identify with much of what Solomon says, the questions he has about these life experiences. Many things that we pursue here give us gratification or satisfaction but only in the moment. Some of those moments are longer than others, but none of them truly last. One may live a life full of great pleasures, one in which everything is a joy, and that might be much different than the lives a lot of other people must live here. That life might seem a lot better or desirable than the ordinary, but there is one thing we cannot deny. Every life comes to the same end at the conclusion of its course, and all the fun and laughter will be forgotten and gone.
I am not sure that Solomon is telling us that all pleasure is pointless. It seems to me that he is trying to find the joy that goes beyond the moment. We can spend an evening laughing, but that laughter does not comfort us if tomorrow brings great sorrow. When the sorrow comes, the laughter is a mere memory. True pleasure and joy will stay with us and carry us through the darker moments. Time will not take it from us, and pain will not extinguish it. If we are to find pleasure in this life, let it be good pleasure that truly adds value to our time here, true joy that lasts. Father, change our hearts to be pleased with what pleases You, to find joy in the things of the Lord.