The Pursuit of ‘Happiness’
It’s everywhere, all around us. Everything in today’s modern world is either telling us to find happiness or is telling us how we can find it. It seems the world or media has all the right answers! Wealth, or most often just implied wealth, the best cars, the right fitness regime, the perfect body, the best life for your family, in the form of a home, a destination, or perhaps the perfect trip to that exotic location? The perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, who totally gets you, and says the right things and always makes you feel wonderful. The list goes on and on. And what happens when we obtain one or all of these things? Does that pursuit end? Do we finally have what we have been hungry for all along? Do we sit back and think,”I have it all, I am happy”? Maybe so. But does this last for the rest of our lives? What happens when we lose some of that wealth or lose the perfect shape our body has, or fall out with a close friend, or experience loss of a job, or worse, a loved one? Where does that leave the state of our heart? How do we rate our level of happiness? Shattered? Unhopeful? Lost?
My 3.5 year old son often reminds me of the simple joys of life. It would seem that true happiness to him is eating an ice cream, or getting a small present, or walking around a toyshop for a few minutes and testing out the toys on display. We may smile at this thought, and think “oh to be so easily pleased..” but deep down we know that these little pleasures don’t last, they can’t bring true and lasting happiness to him. One day, he shall outgrow these little things (maybe not the ice cream, if my tastes are anything to go by!) and will realise that they bring only temporary pleasure. Five minutes after we leave the toy shop, it’s forgotten and once the ice cream has been consumed, all that remains are the stains on his shirt. The present gets unwrapped, and the excitement passes and he’s ready for the next one. But still, the next day, if someone were to mention ice cream, he’s left wanting for more! His desire for it doesn’t run out, although the ice cream always does.
Are we really that different to children? Does the unsustainable joy of a yummy treat really differ that much from a nice car or hefty bank balance? Does the anticipation of a birthday present really vary from the feeling we get when we sign for a new house or a new job or unwrap that pair of designer shoes we have been longing for? I believe that we are no different to children in our pursuit of happiness. We look to the world for temporary, carnal, unsustainable pleasures, that NEVER last. Even relationships, can’t wholly provide what we are looking for; husbands, wives, parents, children, lovers, they all let us down at some point and thus break the pedestal we put them on. It all eventually fades, breaks, gets lost, disappears or depreciates. So why do we keep running after these things, why do we keep looking for lasting joy in what the world has to offer? Even though, deep down, we know none of it will truly satisfy.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) Wow. Now, that’s quite a statement. Fullness of Joy…really? Pleasures forevermore! Can this be true?
The pursuit of true joy can only end in one place, and that’s with our Creator, where we were always meant to be. Until we come into that place, we will keep searching and only find answers that don’t suffice and things that don’t satisfy.
So where will your pursuit lead you?
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