Emptiness Fills Nothing

Luke Morrison • January 2, 2023


Finding meaning in life is something that we all seek to do.

It is something that everyone in all of time has sought to do.

Too often those seeking to find meaning seek it in this world and what the world offers.

They think money, wisdom, women, men, sex, alcohol, drugs, career, sports, or many other things will give them meaning.

They only find out that all of that lets them down. It does not give meaning but does cause grief and pain.

Too many seek to live out the ponderings of the woman from the Reba McEntire song, “Is There Life Out There?”

In this song she sings of a woman who was married at twenty and begins to wonder if she had missed life. She wonders if there is something more to life than her family and her home.

She wonders if she should do what she is thinking she should do. She doesn’t want to leave but she wants to now if there is life out there.

The woman from that song needed to read Ecclesiastes. In this book the Preacher, believed to be Solomon and I believe it is Solomon, considers the question of the meaning of life.

He goes through many questions and aspects of life seeking to answer that question about life.

His introductory remarks darken the thought of life in the world like the inside of midnight at midnight on a moonless night.

He says “Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

Basically this can be stated as ‘Empty indeed, Empty indeed! All is empty.”

Simply stated, nothing in life can give purpose because this world is empty of purpose, meaning, and joy if this world is all there is.

Nothing here can fill the emptiness we all have and need filled.

He says that this is all empty and void of anything.

Yes, we can derive some joy from the beauties of the world.

Yes, we can derive some of our work, wealth, power, fame, and families, but if this world is all there is, then we become like the woman from the Reba song and wonder if there is life out there.

We will because all of that stuff becomes vanity, emptiness, apart from knowing the Lord. He is the only one who gives meaning to that stuff, and only He can give meaning to anything in life.

We see from the beginning that true satisfaction in life can only come through a relationship with the creator instead of pursuing the things of this world.

We see this clearly in Eccl. 1:1-11

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? 4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. 7 All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. 8 All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:1–11 ESV

Right from the start we see that…

The World Cannot Fill Us

In verse three we see that Solomon said “What does a man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?”

Right here Solomon gives us an indication at what he is driving at in this book: life under the sun is not what can give us what we need or desire.

That translates to life here, and only lived for here on earth, cannot and will not give us what we need.

We can work and work and work for many and multiple things.

We can accumulate great wealth and property, but is that true peace and happiness?

No, it cannot. It will not. It will only leave us desiring more and looking out our window at others and asking that same old refrain, ‘Is there Life out there’ ‘Is there meaning out there?’

If this kingdom we build here is the only way to find meaning and if this kingdom we build here is all there is, we are in a sad state.

This is why Solomon said all is vanity. All is empty because this world alone is empty and dead and miserable.

Now, this does not mean we do not work and earn our way. No, we do this because we are supposed to work and earn our way through life.

What this does mean is that we are not to just work and work and work and miss out on life because we were so determined to build a kingdom now.

What do you gain by doing all that?

I will tell you what you gain, you gain nothing because in working every day and all day long and never being with your family or doing things with them or serving the Lord, you lose life.

Why did you work for all those toys and big house and money if all you do is work and never enjoy what you have earned?

Why did you lay up all that money and keep it rather than use it to do something of eternal impact?

It is all emptiness and vanity and a striving after the wind because you laid it all up for it to only be left here under the sun when you die.

Verse four tells us that a generation goes and a generation comes but the earth remains. It is the same and will be the same but you will be gone and another will come.

What you laid up will be left behind, so don’t you think it is better to leave behind something that will impact people.

The earth proves to us that time marches and does not stop.

The sun rises and sets, the wind blows from where it comes to where it goes, the streams flow into the seas and are evaporated up to fall and flow again and again over and over but we end.

We die. We go away. We do not stay forever.

This system of the world demonstrates that the world is set in a pattern and will do what it does regardless what we do.

We do not really have progress or change in what we do. The world remains the same and there is not progress.

When we work and work for nothing more than to build our kingdom we are not doing anything new or different. We are not making progress for anything. The materialism of the world is pure emptiness.

Why is this? Well in the same routine and non changing world we see that the world and all in it does not wind up anywhere.

We see in verses 5-7 that the sun sets and rises from the same place every day. The wind blows from the same places and to the same places but never do anything. The water falls, flows, but fails to fill over and over again.

Basically this is what Pink Floyd said in “The Dark Side of the Moon”

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

The world is repetitive and not progressive. It is the same today as it was millennia ago.

We think we are doing something but all we are doing is getting closer to death to leave it all behind.

This world cannot fill us and…

Seeking New in Nothingness Won’t Fill Us

This section begins with some of the truest words ever said, “All things are full of weariness.”

How true is that. We are all full of weariness over the world and how things are. We all see this stuff and have suffered from some aspect of the world and are weary of it.

We cannot fully understand all that goes on here. Hence it saying we cannot utter it and that our eye is not satisfied with seeing and our ear filled with hearing.

Think of all the digital and endless procession of visual images we have today. We have hundreds of channels and thousands of styles of music. We have so many things at our fingertips and we are never satisfied.

Think about when you sit down and flip through the channels and you say “THERE IS NOTHING ON.”

Yet, we go back and back again because there is just one more show, movie, or song to hear. Yet, this will not fill us and it is never going to satisfy us.

Even with all of this information we cannot comprehend all that happens. We are all struggling through and want more but our own sensory experience fails us in many ways.

We are weary in this world because we continue to be as the rivers that flow into the seas and never fill the sea. We work we live we die but we never fill up.

Not in this world anyway because no matter what we do we are never doing anything new or different.

It is all the same ol same ol.

All of life is just like the sun and the wind and the streams.

It is the same circuit and the same flow over and over again.

Nothing is new, it is all the same and worn and weary system.

This is why it is so important to not seek our value or filling in the world.

It will fail us because it has failed everyone before us.

It is only here for us to keep and subdue not to give us all we need.

It is to be under our subjection as we see in the creation mandate.

In Genesis 1:28 where God “God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The world is not supposed to give us meaning and worth but it is to be subdued by us. We find our worth and meaning beyond this same old place.

So what this means is that we are to do our work, live our lives, love those we have, and find joy in the little nook we have in this world and time.

We do not need to fling ourselves into a life of workaholism and seeking to build our kingdom here.

We are not to try and find filling for our eyes and ears because that only brings weariness and pain.

We are to love life, live life, but to do that we must enjoy life where we are and in what we do because…

Seeking to be Remembered Won’t Fill Us

The last verse tells us that there is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be remembrance of latter things yet to be among those who come after.

One commentator stated that the beginning of this verse could say, “there is no remembrance of earlier men, nor of the men who will come later.” (John D. Currid, Ecclesiastes: A Quest for Meaning: Ecclesiastes Simply Explained, Welwyn Commentary Series (Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP Books, 2016), 23.)

There have been possibly 25 billion people to live on this earth in its history of existence.

I would wager that the number of the names of people remembered for something is probably well below .05% of the worlds population.

It takes extreme instances for someone to be remembered for something throughout history. Like being a king, but many kings are not remembered today.

Maybe a powerful orator, yet many of these are not remembered today.

Let me illustrate this for you.

There are around 460,000 clergy in the USA.

There are maybe 100 that are well known by most people.

Names like David Jeremiah, Robert Jeffress, John MacArthur, Charles Swindoll, to name a few.

But there are many more that most do not know.

Men like Shawn Willson, Bob Bolender, Gary Johnson, and Matthew Everhard to name just a few. I guarantee that not very many know the name Luke Morrison.

Now, think of the rodeo world. There are many men and women in that world that most have never heard of but a few that we have.

Now, most of these people will never be remembered beyond a few generations, if even that far.

That is because there is no remembrance of earlier men nor of the men who will come later.

This is why Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf said, “Preach the gospel. Die. Be forgotten.” (David Gibson. Living Life Backward (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017), 17. Kindle Edition.)

The only reason why we strive to be remembered in this world like a George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Jim Bowie is because we want to have a kingdom here.

We want glory here because we think this is the way to be filled.

We want glory here and we do because we think here is what it is all about.

We may not verbally say this but every time we live our lives for this world and not for the Lord , that is exactly what we are saying.

To be blunt, most everyone in this room will not be remembered in a hundred years.

We will have been and then will be gone.

What we should do is try and live so that we make eternal impacts on people.

We show them who the Lord is and allow them to come to know Him more than coming to know us.

We strive to have the Lord’s name remembered over our name.

Even if we do something grand we will probably be forgotten in a few brief years of our passing.

Much like Thomas Sayers. In 1865 Sayers, who began his career as an illiterate bricklayer, had risen to become the most celebrated sportsman of the Victorian age.

This was England’s first bare-knuckle fighting champion. His final match, which he fought largely one-handed in a Hampshire field, was watched by thousands. Special trains were chartered to transport the spectators, who included fellow Victorian superstars like the novelists Charles Dickens and William Thackeray. Even the Prime Minister of the day, Lord Palmerston attended; Parliament shortened its hours especially and Queen Victoria asked to be informed of the result.

When he died a few years later, the funeral procession stretched for two miles and included some 100,000 people. The cemetery descended into chaos as people climbed trees and trampled tombstones, hoping for a better view.

Nearly One hundred and sixty years on, his reputation has turned to dust. He’s still well known to history buffs and boxing obsessives – but to the rest of us, he needs an introduction.

The steady march of time has left many other similar casualties in its wake – people who have risen to dizzying heights of fame only to be largely forgotten.

This was a man who had 100,000 people come to his funeral and I bet not many, if any, of you knew who he was.

So, if he who had that has been forgotten in time, who do we think we are to try and be remembered when we should be striving to make God be known over ourselves/

Seeking fame and remembrance will not fill us any more than seeking to find our fulfillment in the world or in something “new,” it is impossible.

We can only find true meaning and true life in the Lord.


Today as we start a new year and a new series about life and meaning, I ask you to not be like the woman from the Reba song “Is There Life Out There?” who was wondering if there was more out there for her above her family and home.

Your life is not found in the world any more than hers would have been.

Your meaning and life is in the Lord alone and your identity is in Him alone.

You no more know what is good for you than a small child if you think the world will offer you something better than what you can have with the Lord.

No drug, drink, man, woman, car, pickup, horse, career, house, clothing, accessories, or anything else material can give you meaning and joy.

They may make you “happy” for a spell, but you will become like the woman from the Reba song and begin to wonder what else there is out there for you.

You will become weary trying to satisfy your eyes and fill your ears with what this same old song and dance world offers you.

But in Christ there is joy, peace, fulfillment beyond anything you will ever find in this creation.

So today I ask you if you are struggling with meaning and contentment, call out to the one who created all this and ask Him to fill you.

He has said He will save all who believe and when you believe He offers eternal life that is a life of abundance.

Maybe that abundance is not here but that is okay because this world is nothing new or able to fill you anyway. So seek the filling that the Lord can give and there you will find meaning in life.