A story is told about a young boy who spent his long summers fishing and gazing up into the big blue sky. The highlight of his day was when he spotted the plane that regularly flew overheard, provoking an excited response, “Oh, how I’d love to be that pilot, flying.” Little did he know the pilot would gaze down at the small pond at the same time, hoping to catch sight of the idyllic scene. As he did, the pilot would sigh, longingly, “Oh, how I’d love to be that young boy, fishing.”
Is the search for happiness akin to the myth of Sissyphus? Sissyphus was condemned by the gods to roll a large boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down again – and to do this for all eternity.
In other words, is the search for happiness out of reach? Maybe, maybe not.
Will Smith starred in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” a movie which captured the hard-working efforts of a father who battled the odds to provide for his young son. The happy ending? The father realised his dream of a high-flying career with a six-figure pay check. Would most people working long-hours in the financial markets agree they are living the American dream? How much is enough? Rockefeller said it best, “Just a little bit more…!”
Simon Pegg’s character took a shot in “The Search for Happiness.” He played a psychiatrist who travels around the world looking for ultimate answers. The happy ending? The realisation that we ought not to be preoccupied with the pursuit of happiness. Instead we need to appreciate the happiness of the pursuit. We all have an obligation to be happy, so try to retain a child-like outlook and treasure the simple things in life. While this sounds warm and winsome to the successful professional having a mid-life crisis (Pegg’s character in the movie), would the same words bring comfort to the downtrodden, abused, trafficked, and marginalised around the world?
But what if life is not all about happiness – what if it’s about holiness? The Bible teaches the purpose of life is not simply to be happy. It’s to be made holy. This life is not all there is, and God is at work in the world from an eternal perspective. He wants to transform us from the inside-out so we reflect his glory, now and forever. This means there is hope for the corporate executive – who understands life is not about investing everything in this world. This means there is hope for the broken and abused – who know they can reach out to God today and trust him for tomorrow.
The path to holiness may not always be a happy one, but a commitment to Christ brings something greater than happiness. The writing of CS Lewis captures this well, and while he experienced deep pain and anguish on his spiritual journey, his autobiography is titled, Surprised by Joy! The pain came first – the joy came later.
The world says pursue happiness. Experience tells us this world will never be enough.
The Bible says, put God first, pursue holiness and you’ll be surprised by something more. You’ll be surprised by joy!
…the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Author and speaker.