“What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (v3). What’s the point of it all? When our work doesn’t seem to produce anything, or when we face the same daily tasks without seeing change or progress, we may feel, like the Preacher, that everything is “vain” (v1). We may lose energy and hope in the future, thinking, “All things are full of weariness” (v8). The trouble isn’t really our work; it is ourselves.
Even the best things in life can feel like “striving after wind” (v17) when we have no purpose. Jesus said that if we want to find significance, we must “lose” our lives and follow Him (Mt 16:25).