A professor, speaking during a symposium, shared that she flies a lot and is often bumped up to first class. While chatting with her seatmates, she sometimes hears variations of her life story—stories of people who’ve graduated from prestigious universities, taken the best internships, and landed top jobs. They’ve done everything the world told them to do, but many still feel empty inside.

These people, like many of us, had been so busy getting ahead that they’d never stopped and asked why they were running so hard. What was it all for?

King Solomon could relate. He enjoyed countless pleasures and productive work, but it was never enough. He knew he would die and leave whatever he’d accumulated to his descendants who’d fritter it away. Why bother? (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19,21-22).

Solomon found purpose only when he gave up trying to generate his own meaning (Ecclesiastes 2:20) and found his significance in God. Only the eternal One transcends all lifespans, so the only accomplishments that ultimately matter are those He accepts. As Paul would later write, God only accepts what is devoted to Jesus. The only thing that counts is “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him” (Philippians 3:8-9).

Nothing here on earth can truly satisfy us. Jesus frees us from empty pursuits and enables us to please God who “gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). We’re now free to “enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work.” These “pleasures are from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24), the only One who can replace our empty feelings with His fulfilling presence.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 11:19-29