THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS- A True Reality or a Hoax?
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, to whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:8-9
*all scriptures are taken from the NKJV, unless otherwise stated
Where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be and where a man’s heart is, that will be the object of his pursuit. Happiness and its pursuit have become what many are talking about globally, and the acquisition of that which gives them most happiness is what many are chasing. Some chase after the ever elusive happiness, doing whatever it takes to get it. But obviously, as we all can see, the pursuit of happiness in this world is like a chase after shadows and dust. It’s a mirage. And the reason is simple. Happiness and the state of happiness as they relate to materialism, emotional gratification, pursuit of status, fleshly desires are nothing but transient feelings of futility. They are here one minute and gone the next minute. Every form of materialism always comes an with expiry date and whatever can expire is not worth the chase of an entire lifetime. You don’t have to believe me that the chase of futile happiness is nonsense, but the proof always comes at the death bed. True happiness is found only in eternal things and which only come by the way of the crown of thorns and the way of the cross of death to self.
As someone who loves to travel and see things, I have visited a few museums and historical places within Africa. Obviously, you pay to enter such places as part of revenue collection (tourism) for the host nation. You see monuments set up in honor of some heroes from the past, writings in honor of some cultures that are extinct and even architecture of old that is broken down. I love such places for three reasons: one- for good photography, two- something new to write about and three- (which is the most important) such places make me see things for what they really are and not for what I assume them to be. For me, going to see a monument or a museum of antiquity always reminds me that once upon a time, such and such was the most important pursuit of their day. Meaning that, everything man chases after to acquire and which he gives all his life’s energy for, and for which he killed or committed crimes to get, will someday become at best, a monument. A monument only good for teaching the next generation how stupid it is to chase after things that expire.
What is happiness?
Certainly, there are lots and lots of definitions of happiness, even though a lot of these are not really definitions in a sense, but just a way to try to explain this elusive concept. That means happiness, in the context of how most people see it, is subjective to the individual and their personal experiences. The positive Psychology researcher, Sanja Lyubomirsky describes happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive wellbeing, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.”
I will use this as a general definition the world has of the concept of happiness, keep it at the back of your mind even as we go further into this article.
Of what use is it really?
Such an elaborate definition of happiness sounds like a happy song. But my only issue with the concept of happiness is not the above definition in and of itself, but to what “treasure” is one’s joy, contentment, positivity, sense of worth and meaning, one’s entire life anchored to? Let me put it in another way: Of what use is the happiness that is an experience of joy, contentment, wellbeing and sense of worth over that which has no eternal value? Think about it. Or let me put it this way. Why should someone in his right mind, measure his or her life’s worth based on that which will expire and become, at best, a monument for stories of futility? Is that not a grand deception? And this concept of happiness, is what men have dedicated their entire lives chasing after and never stopping at any time to ask, “what happened to the things or happiness my forefathers chased after?” I think man has become a slave of his own learnings and wayward knowledge that has reduced him to an unconscious being, driven by selfish desires and not evaluating the true meaning of things in relation to eternity. I have read several articles about how some people get into drugs, homosexuality, fraud, adultery, prostitution and all the many other vices we see and hear of. They all seem to say the same thing. “I wanted to be happy.”
And to make matters worse, the church also has followed suit. Preaching the gospel of happiness and good feelings at the detriment of that which is eternal and which can only come by the sacrifice of selfish desires. Simply put, the only happiness that is worth chasing after is that joy which wells up like a spring of life in the heart of him who has found an eternal reason to live, a reason which goes beyond death into eternity. Period. Anything else is a chase after shadows and dust. You can quote me on this anywhere. I stand for it anywhere and any time. So I say it again “Simply put, the only happiness that is worth chasing after is that joy which wells up like a spring of life in the heart of him who has found an eternal reason to live, a reason which goes beyond death into eternity. Period. Anything else is a chase after shadows and dust.”
Am I in anyway against the good things of life that God graciously gives us? Not at all. For the goodness, the kindness and the providence of God towards mankind is pleasing to His heart and a pointer to His Fatherly heart. But a chase after that which doesn’t please Him in the human quest for happiness, I do not subscribe to. It is futility. It is fornication. It is the exchange of that which is eternal for that which is temporal. It is death.
Who is to blame?
Life is certainly more than clothing, new shoes, fine houses, fast cars, the highs of drugs, sexual gratification and all the many things men chase after to make them “happy”. That one chased after it two years ago and still is not satisfied shows its transient nature. It never will be tangible and never will last. However, the question now is this, who is to blame for the pursuit of happiness, of materialism that man has so engrossed himself with? I think my sincere answer is, nobody, except the one who is chasing after it. No man is left without the conscious ability to make accurate decisions as to what is valuable and what has no real meaning. The man, the woman, the teenager who is able to decide for himself to live after the chase of that which is meaningless, I believe also has the ability to make proper choices for that which is meaningful. Except that what people call meaningful in our day happens to be the things that make them “happy” and which almost all the time, have no eternal value. Many will blame the devil and even, maybe blame Eve. But in the real sense, the devil is not to blame for Eve’s fall and neither is Eve to blame for anyone’s choices and decisions to allow the chase of fleshy desire take over their hearts. The devil only played on the desire that was already in Eve and is doing the same for everyone else following suit. For scriptures say of Eve “So when the woman (Eve) SAW that the tree was good for food, that it was PLEASANT to the eyes, and a tree DESIRABLE to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband WITH HER, and he ate”. Genesis 3:6. (Emphasis mine). The question now again is this. Who is to blame for the chase after fleshly desire, since Adam and Eve were created without guilt of any kind? We will talk about this in other articles.
King Solomon’s story – The vanity of pleasure
If there is a story in the Bible of someone who went all the way in chasing after happiness, it is King Solomon. A man given wisdom by God Himself to rule over His people. A man given wealth and prosperity in ways not seen in his days and even before his days. A man from whom nothing of this world was withheld. A man who had it all and more. But see what he said concerning his chase of happiness that had no eternal value:
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.
I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.
So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.
Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly;
For what can the man do who succeeds the king?—
Only what he has already done.
Then I saw that wisdom excels folly
As light excels darkness.
The wise man’s eyes are in his head,
But the fool walks in darkness.
Yet I myself perceived
That the same event happens to them all.
So I said in my heart,
“As it happens to the fool,
It also happens to me,
And why was I then more wise?”
Then I said in my heart,
“This also is vanity.”
For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever,
Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come.
And how does a wise man die?
As the fool!”
The end of the matter
King Solomon considered all his pursuit for happiness and came to a grand conclusion.
” Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.
My thoughts are these.
While you go about your daily activities that God has assigned to you, be it work in the office, business, government positions, as a stay-at-home mum, or whatever it is, do not do it from the position of the pursuit of happiness, but from the space of tending and keeping the eternal realities of God kept in your hands by God. For death to him who is anchored to eternal things is not an end but a vehicle to the other side of life.
Think about these things and get the wisdom required for daily living, especially in the days of the chase for happiness.
God bless you. From your brother.
Stock photo: Crown of Thorns - aduaaya.com