Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, all is vanity!
I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after the wind.
The Hebrew word for vanity, means transitory and unsatisfactory, fleeting, like the wind. “What is vanity? What is fleeting and unsatisfactory? And what is NOT vanity? What is meaningful and not transitory?”
The prophet, Hosea voices this in a lament over the people of Israel’s broken relationship with God, as a ‘chasing after the wind.’
He reflects on the way God has related to his chosen people… “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them [my children, my people], the more they went from me; …. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim [part of Israel] to walk, I took them up in my arms; I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness and love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them” (Hosea 11:1-4). Yet, “My people are bent on turning away from me. … How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?”(Hosea 11:7-8). God’s questions go beyond finding meaning that is satisfactory in relationship with God’s people. God is despairing for their very lives!
Yet while God may punish these children for a time, they will not be utterly abandoned. The time will come when the people will cease chasing after the wind, and will respond to God’s correction.
Hosea assures us that though we may suffer the consequences of turning away, and chasing after the wind, God will hear our repentance and welcome each one back and “return us home.”
Thank you ever-present God, for remembering us, even when we turn from you to follow our own ways. Thank you for accepting our repentance and welcoming us once again with open arms. Amen