The Search for Joy

Man cannot live without joy; therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures. Thomas Aquinas

One of the vital lessons that must be learned at a young age is the understanding that true happiness cannot be found in worldly pursuits. This contradicts everything that we are told, from the enticements of the party life when we are teens to the keeping up with the Jones' when we are a bit older.

From our peers to television advertisers to Hollywood, we are taught that happiness is found in pursuit of physical pleasures. But drunkenness leads to hangovers and addiction, illicit relationships lead to disease and guilt and unwanted pregnancies, and greed just leads to envy and covetousness and dissatisfaction with what we do have.

Why is that? It's because God did not set up His world to yield joy for those who sow evil, anymore than He set up His world to yield corn for those who sow wheat. God created us, he created this world and he created the only path to true and lasting joy. There are no shortcuts, no better ways and no exceptions.

Joy can only be found in God and Christ.

One of the strangest character studies in the Bible is that of King Solomon. He was given the gift of wisdom by God, so he knew that true joy was available only to the obedient. But he decided that he would find out what was worthwhile in life. He tried drunkenness, many wives, and the heaping up of wealth. Do you know what he found? In his own words, he found that pursuit of physical pleasures was "meaningless".

The fact is that much of our lives are consumed by these meaningless pursuits. For those who try the worldly route, there is sorrow and pain and depression and addiction. But, for those whose focus is squarely on Christ, there is joy. Joy does not mean we are immune to the sorrows inflicted on us by those who would pursue worldly pleasures, but it does mean peace of mind and a quietness of spirit.

God wants us to be happy and He has carefully revealed the exact path to that joy. The question for us is will we take the one path to true joy, or will we insist on the alternate path that is filled with sorrow? The answer to that question will be the difference between a nightmarish existence and a fulfilling life that most only dream about.

This only I have found: God made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes. Ecclesiastes 7:29, NIV