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Six Habits As Futile As Chasing the Wind

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.

“What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? . . . Everything is wearisome beyond description . . . and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind (engaging in meaningless activity).” Ecclesiastes 1: 3, 8, 14 NLT.

This sense of futility may well be the attitude of some individuals who are frustrated at the inconvenience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their efforts to control their time and movements become pointless, and they may throw up their hands in despair. But worrying over conditions that we cannot control is only one of several habits which may be labeled meaningless.

Throughout Ecclesiastes, credited to the authorship of King Solomon, we find six destructive habits which are similar to chasing the wind. As we read them, let's take inventory of our attitudes and habits. Let's be intentional about choosing habits which can increase our productivity and feed our sense of purpose.

1. Seeking to Know Everything

"So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind." (1:17)

Presidents and kings have proved their ignorance in understanding the coronavirus. There's no shame in that; it is an enemy which their armies cannot destroy. Medical authorities have confessed that they are still learning, so they can perform effectively. Learning continues for a lifetime.

If the aim of individuals seeking knowledge is to boast, or to gain the reputation of being experts, they are likely to face embarrassment over and over. They will meet others who know more than they do in several areas of learning.

A better habit than seeking to know everything is to learn all one can, with the intention of sharing information and cooperating in team efforts to produce results for the common good. We can learn from each other.

So I set out to learn everything . . . all this is like chasing the wind." (Eccl. 1:17)

So I set out to learn everything . . . all this is like chasing the wind." (Eccl. 1:17)

2. Working Hard Without Gaining Satisfaction

"But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. . . So I came to hate life because everything . . . is meaningless—like chasing the wind." (2:11, 17)

Working hard is honorable, but working hard without gaining satisfaction is one of the most common ways of chasing the wind. Dissatisfaction may be caused by insufficient pay, humiliation from the employer or rewards which are meaningless. Solomon was self-employed, and for all his troubles, his trophies meant nothing.

To avoid this dilemma, pray for God's guidance in setting goals according to one's God-given purpose. If desirable paid assignments are temporarily unavailable, invest free time on weekends or after hours, in the vocation of choice. This will provide some satisfaction, and later, there may be openings which require that experience.

3. Gaining Wealth but Not Divine Favor

"God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind." (2:26)

King Solomon appears on the list of Richest People of All Times, with a personal fortune which could have surpassed $2 trillion (£1.42trn) in today's money. There's nothing wrong in owning wealth; but without peace of mind, joy, love of life and family, wealth does not bring satisfaction. It only seems to cynics like Solomon that God gives their wealth to His loyal followers. The rich would be surprised at how little money some of these happy people have. It is their connectedness with God which gives them joy and peace. Such a connection will bring the satisfaction which the wealthy are seeking. Solomon's appeal at the end of the book (12:13) is to fear God.

Solomon's Possessions

Structural DesignsNatural DesignsPeople and AnimalsWealth

huge homes

beautiful vineyards and flourishing groves

male and female singers and slaves, concubines

treasure from many kings and provinces

water reservoirs

gardens and parks

herds and flocks

great sums of silver and gold

4. Achieving Success Powered by Envy

"Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. . . And yet, 'Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.'” (4:4, 6)

This habit is pathetic because it is not motivated by a personal need, but by a destructive desire to want what the other person has. The desire intensifies the longer it is harbored, and is often followed by the temptation to obtain the object (or status, or reputation) by illegal or criminal action. To self-destruct in the effort to gain someone else's possession is the ultimate in chasing the wind.

Rather than try doubly hard to get what the other person has, evaluate one's real needs and learn productive measures to fill them.

Most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

Most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

5. Thriving Temporarily on Popularity

"Endless crowds stand around him, but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind." (4:16)

This temporary popularity is most obvious in the life of politicians. Solomon, his father David, and his son Jeroboam all experienced fickle popularity during their reigns. The comment from the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is as true for our generation as it was for theirs.

"The reign which begins so brightly shares the inevitable doom, and ends in darkness, and murmuring and failure… The glory of the most popular and successful king shares the common doom and is but as a feeding upon wind.”

Kings as well as commoners who decide to thrive on popularity have the lifelong job of finding new people who will root for them. It takes very little for folks to shift their loyalty. Better to deserve selection based on qualities and track records of noble performance, than seek election based on popularity with a fickle crowd.

6. Nurturing Discontent Instead of Gratitude

"Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind." (6:9)

We're back where we started. During the pandemic, we are experiencing the futility of wishing for the privileges we have lost. Life is too precious to be spent nurturing despair. Instead, let us express gratitude for the blessings we still enjoy. Let us appreciate our breathing and the space which allows us to stand six feet apart.

Hopefully, our new found gratitude will be become a way of life. Instead of chasing the wind, may we search for and find rainbows. May we notice the spark in each other's eyes—the spark from our smiles, which no mask can completely hide.

© 2020 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on June 25, 2020:

Thanks for your feedback, BlogChick. It takes practice to develop good habits, just keep at it!

Theblogchick from United States on June 23, 2020:

I think you have outline some greats points here Dora. Nurturing discontent instead of gratitude is one that i struggle with. Very informative article. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on June 16, 2020:

Denise, thanks for your feedback. I appreciate your time and effort to read and comment.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 15, 2020:

I really appreciate your point of view. These are all very good points to take to heart. I especially like not seeking wealth out of envy and working hard but for the satisfaction of a job well done.

Blessings,

Denise

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 30, 2020:

Lawrence, thanks for sharing. I love Mike's attitude, and we can pray that prayer from St. Francis over and over for our own peace of mind.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on May 29, 2020:

MsDora

This hub reminds me of an old neighbour we had when we first got married.

Mike was the kind of person who when you asked him how he was doing his reply was, "Still upright and sucking air, so I'm thankful for that!"

I think we do spend too much time chasing the things we can't change.

I often think of the prayer of St Francis.

"Lord, give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference"

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 13, 2020:

Thanks, Rajan, for sharing your insightful observation. Your conclusion is totally true.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 13, 2020:

The current pandemic has shown that hankering after possessions is like chasing the wind. Being satisfied with what one has and offering gratitude for it is the way to go.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 28, 2020:

Dream, thank you for sharing. Your comment by itself makes me happy that God put this article on my heart to write. I am encouraged!

DREAM ON on April 28, 2020:

Dora Weithers I often like to relax and unwind and let my thoughts do my writing. Then other times I drift away and can read hours on end. After reading I use to get so aggravated that I couldn't remember all that I read. Many people I know can remember almost word for word but don't bother to read. Then I found myself reading less and less. After reading your hub it made me realize that I was in search of everything I could try to remember. That wasn't as important as learning something from what I read. It took me all these years to learn one simple lesson. I did the total opposite. I would try to find ways to remember more. Memory tricks and speed reading. Most only helped temporarily and even when I remembered more I still wasn't happy. I still focused on all that I couldn't remember. I didn't want to remember more to boast or to show off. I wanted to know more so I could learn more. Maybe the secret isn't to read everything but to enjoy what little we do read. Thank you so much for helping me with a fifty year old problem. Pleasant dreams.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 28, 2020:

Cheryl, thanks for your encouragement. I feel the same way about you.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on April 28, 2020:

Thank you for another amazing story that makes us think. You are truly anointef

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 27, 2020:

Thanks, Shauna. We sure have lots of time now to figure out what's important and what's not. I appreciate your comment.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 27, 2020:

Dora, this is such an appropriate and timely reminder to keep ourselves in check and make each moment count. Your last paragraph says is all.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 26, 2020:

Thanks, Peg. You gave a precise conclusion to the article. Well said!

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on April 26, 2020:

Your words are fantastic reminders that all this, too, will pass: envy, popularity, wealth and possessions will have no use to us in the end.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 26, 2020:

Thanks,William. Truth is, we need so much of this wisdom right now. 'Twould be really good if we pay attention.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 26, 2020:

Thanks, Peggy. This is the perfect time for reflection and much good can come out of it.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on April 26, 2020:

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books, Dora. So much wisdom. Thank you for sharing a bit of it. Might we pay attention!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2020:

This worldwide pandemic is surely shaking things up. Perhaps some of the aftereffects will make people reevaluate what is most important in life. Your post addresses some of it here beautifully.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 24, 2020:

Thanks, Pam. I love your conclusion: living with gratitude is the only way to live. You and I have grown wise enough to know that.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 24, 2020:

Sampsons, I appreciate you sharing and illustrating your point. It cost that family the life of their son to obtain their riches. The riches can never bring him back. They paid dearly and I'm sure that they would rather have him, so why envy them?

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 24, 2020:

Eric, the King James Version speaks about "vanity and vexation of spirit" which is what the new versions render as "chasing the wind." That helped me understand that these meaningless activities are upsetting, not enjoyable.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 24, 2020:

Thanks, Liz. Even while you think, please enjoy the weekend.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 24, 2020:

I enjoyed this article and all six of these habits certainly feel better. I liked the politician paragraph as I thought it was so true. Most importantly living with gratitude is the only way to live Ms Dora.

The Sampsons from The Ozarks, Missouri on April 24, 2020:

Terrific article. Gratitude. There is no point in chasing the wind.

I'm rarely ever jealous of anything. (I can't even think of the last time. Maybe high school)? If somebody got their "riches" (in whatever form) as long as they came by it honest, I am all for it. Making comparisons is futile and destructive.

As a matter of fact, being jealous of someone who "has it all" can be really, really misleading. There is a couple, friends of ours, who "has it all". A big house, a grand piano on an authentic huge Turkish rug, nice clothes, nice cars.

On the outside looking in, one could think "What have they done to deserve this? I work just as hard. I should have all that".

Here is what they did to "get" all this. They lost their sweet 4 year old son due to a product error. There were years of agony, lawsuits, and finally it was proven the company was in error. They were awarded $15 million dollars.

If they can find one iota of happiness in travels, belongings, whatever, then I hope they can. They also donate to many. many causes concerning children which is probably more fulfilling to then than anything they can own.

I got off topic, and I apologize. However, this seems to echo "chasing the wind". If a person knows the facts about "riches", would you really, really want to chase the same path?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 24, 2020:

Beautifully done. I was not so familiar with the NLT so that was nice. I often have trouble syncing this notion of chasing the wind with enjoying the journey as much or more than the destination.

But it seems that true godly purpose is what just my make the journey the sweetest.

Thank you for this marvelous insight.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 24, 2020:

You make some very valid points, Dora. You have given us all plenty of food for thought over the weekend.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 24, 2020:

Bill, you always encourage me when you let your faith shine through. Thank you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 24, 2020:

Thank you, Flourish. Gratitude always keep the spirit lifted. Why would we neglect to be thankful when it does so much for our total health?

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 24, 2020:

Rosina, we can prove now, if we didn't before, that nurturing discontent rather than gratitude will do us no good. Thanks for your contribution.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 24, 2020:

Four words have been my guiding light for the past fourteen years.....

Let go, let God!

Have a wonderful weekend, my friend, and blessings to you always

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 24, 2020:

I like your conclusion of gratitude. There is much to appreciate even for those who have lost much.

Rosina S Khan on April 24, 2020:

Out of all the six bad habits similar to chasing the wind, I think what speaks to me the most is nurturing discontent instead of gratitude, which is meaningless. Thank you, Dora, for sharing such an insightful hub.