For a long time, one of my biggest weaknesses in life was candy. Starburst, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles…you know what I’m talking about. As a young kid, I once found my granddad’s secret candy bowl, and, needless to say, I had to make a few trips to the dentist in the months to follow.
The problem I have now as an adult is that I can decide to buy and eat candy as I wish. The great philosopher Jerry Seinfeld reminds me that as an adult I can even intentionally ruin my entire appetite if I want to.
Take that, mom!
The real issue with eating too much candy is that our stomachs desire something substantial, but our eyes and tongues crave whatever is in front of us. If candy is before us, then it’s candy we’ll have. It could be soda, ice cream, chips, or any other food. You get the idea. But any of them will eventually lead to a spoiled appetite.
The reality is there are lots of ways we can find ourselves disappointed after pursuing something we thought looked good. In fact, anytime we pursue something other than what we’re supposed to, we end up disappointed, sad, angry, or quite simply not happy.
"The reality is there are lots of ways we can find ourselves disappointed..."
You might not be able to relate with my candy analogy. Instead, you thought your latest promotion or new job would make you happy. Maybe you thought the pay raise would meet the need. You may have thought the new relationship would fill the void you’re feeling. You could have placed your hope in the house or new car you just bought. Perhaps you were hoping the new level of status you achieved online or on social media would work. Other pursuits could include your physique and body image, moving in with the person you’re dating, alcohol or drugs, or pornography.
The sad part is thinking one or more of these would result in your happiness probably isn’t really your fault. Our society has conditioned us to think this way. We’re told that if we achieve or experience these things, we’ll be happy. We’re made to believe our lives will suddenly be perfect and have meaning if “x” is achieved.
So, why does the happiness seem to fade and the empty feeling always come back?
Jesus actually explained this 2,000 years ago to a woman who was pursuing men to bring her happiness that never seemed to last:
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, NLT)
She has tried again and again to make her life happy on her own, but it didn’t work. Maybe for a short time it worked, but as Jesus said, it won’t last and will leave her thirsty again soon. The lady, though, was obviously desperate for a lasting state of happiness and joy and was excited to hear this news:
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water!” (John 4:15, NLT)
That’s the beauty of a life found in Jesus – it’s so simple! While society and other religions tell you to try pursuing lots of other things for happiness, the Bible points to one thing only as our source: Jesus.
When our lives and identities are found in Him, that’s when we find ourselves satisfied at the soul level, living with true happiness. Our circumstances can change, and our lives may experience hell, but we’re grounded in the love of a Father who cares and the power of Jesus, who has defeated death.
"When our lives and identities are found in Him, that’s when we find ourselves satisfied at the soul level..."
So, if you’re wondering why you never seem to be happy, this could be it. Maybe your pursuits aren’t about Jesus, and other things have taken His place in your life. Your soul is longing for this to change, though. If this is you, and you have tried everything else, try this. Try a life that’s pursuing Jesus more than anything else.
Stop pursuing things that always leave you feeling empty and thirsty for more, and start pursuing Jesus to find a fresh spring that never runs dry.
If you find yourself here, you’re likely in a fall or winter season of your soul. If this is you, make sure you watch weeks three and four of Seasons of the Soul online. This could be a season where God wants to see you grow in your dependency on Him rather than on yourself or things of this world.