“What is happiness?”
These are the three words my teacher asked in the middle of Geography class. The words ‘Gross National Happiness Index (GNH)’ was sprawled across the projected whiteboard. They weren’t new to us since we had been learning about the index in accordance with the subject of human wellbeing for the past few lessons.
The class launched into a heated conversation.
Ignoring the chatter, my teacher instructed us, “In your books, write a few things that define your happiness.”
My friends, for some reason, decided to take my book and scribble a rough mind map. With arrows here and there, they wrote to their heart’s content. I watched on (since there was no space for me to write) as they ran their pens all over the page. After just a few minutes, the entire paper was filled.
I peered over their shoulders and took in the page’s contents. But as I stared at that piece of paper, I realised that all the things that they found to have contributed to their happiness were all materialistic things, or in other words, earthly things.
From shopping, to Netflix, to relationships – you name it. As the teacher went around the class, asking each of us to share what we wrote down, I began to realise this: our human inclination is to fulfil our desires and search for happiness from things of this world. If I had made my own list or mind map, I bet I would’ve written down those things too.
As teenagers growing up in a secular world, happiness is something we are constantly told to strive for. Whether it be found in money, success or fame, it has become a factor in giving meaning to someone’s life. But we fail to understand this one concept: this world is temporary and so is everything in it. It’s as simple as that, yet we all tend to forget as soon as we come face to face with our own earthly idols. We ignore the fact that we actually do realise that these things will never fully satisfy our desires because we always end up coming back for more.
Did You Know #1: We only ever run to what the world provides, when searching for happiness, because we do not realise that true happiness is more than just what the eye can see.
But if it isn’t shopping, Netflix, relationships, or the like, what is happiness then? What can give us the everlasting satisfaction that we need?
Answer: The World is Not The Answer
Vanity. If you searched up the word in a dictionary, you would be given the definition “the quality of being worthless or futile”.
Synonyms? Meaningless, useless…. you get the idea.
Did You Know #2: In Ecclesiastes, the preacher stresses that everything in this world is meaningless; All is in vain. He laments even in the very first few verses, “Vanity of vanities… vanity of vanities! All is vanity…” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
This planet, though seemingly “just right”, will not and never will grant us eternal satisfaction. Because no matter how hard we try, all our efforts will be in vain.
We hunger and thirst for what the world has to offer and never think twice if the satisfaction they give is eternal or not. It may look appealing, and there may be pleasure involved, but just how long it lasts, we know oh too well. Yet, we find ourselves coming back for more even when we know how useless it is.
It’s quite a typical scenario considering our human nature: we feel empty, we turn to the things the eye sees as pleasing, and we feel content or fulfilled, but once that fades we feel disappointed and empty once again; Then the cycle repeats. What a dead and pitiful state our human race is in!
We should all ask ourselves this question, “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3).
Did You Know #3: The term “under the sun” refers to all things that are done with a purpose that is not purely Christ-centred. In this verse the preacher gets straight to the point; What does man gain from something that is meaningless?
There’s something missing…. something we must have looked over in this mission in search for happiness…. but what is it?
Answer: There’s Only One Answer
In this mission, we’ve been seeing it as multiple pieces that make up one big puzzle, but what if we shifted our perspective to look at it like this:
Did You Know #4: In actual fact, this puzzle is only made up of one big piece…. and that piece is God.
No wonder! That’s why whenever we try to fill ourselves with worldly things, it simply doesn’t do anything. It may give some form of satisfaction, but a few enjoyable moments later, it’s all gone.
Blaise Pascal – a french philosopher, mathematician, scientist, inventor and theologian – once said this:
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”
At the end of the day, there will always be that feeling that there is something missing inside of us. We were designed so that nothing and no one can fill that emptiness in our hearts, but One…. and it is none other than God.
Alongside all this, we have to know that the only reason we can call this “mission complete” is because of the grace that has been bestowed upon us. When we see just how sinful and unworthy we are we come to realise that, in fact, we don’t deserve happiness at all. What we should be getting is God’s ultimate wrath. Then it would become “mission abort”.
But because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross, we are now eligible to obtain that true and everlasting happiness that can only be found in God. Praise the LORD for His wonderful, sovereign plan of salvation!
Final Announcement: Mission accomplished!! Congratulations fellow crewmates!
Human endeavour in this world is but an endless and vicious cycle. But we can rest assured because we have found the source of eternal happiness – not just a one-time thing, but a joy that is everlasting. Our Father in Heaven. May this hope be with us as we continue our journey here on this earth.