Don't pursue happiness! By Greg Laurie.People today are searching for happiness as never before. The pursuit of happiness is universal, but I think somehow in the United States, we are even more obsessed with it. It's even mentioned in our Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." But have we found this happiness we pursue? Maybe that is why philosopher Erick Hoffer wrote, "The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness." A woman is never beautiful enough – in her mind at least. And the same goes for men.
Doesn't it drive you nuts to hear a supermodel discuss the so-called flaws in her appearance? Or, she is reed-thin but insists she needs to lose weight still? We're learning how many professional athletes have compromised their health and their integrity by pumping their bodies full of steroids and growth hormones.
People try to create the perfect body through plastic surgery, and there are even television shows dedicated to the subject, like "The Swan" and "Extreme Makeover." Added to the pursuit of the perfect face and the perfect body is the perfect wardrobe. But the problem with that is clothes are never fashionable enough. Just when you have revamped your wardrobe to be totally on the cutting edge, a whole new style comes along. T
hose expensive jeans and sneakers that were so cool yesterday become uncool overnight. And after a few years, all that stuff you gave to Goodwill is back in style again! For many, it seems you can never have a nice enough house. Or a fast enough car. You may buy a state-of-the-art computer today, but in a matter of months it won't be able to run the new programs. Life is never full enough.
Maybe you find yourself always saying, "I'm bored!" – while you're watching TV, playing the latest video game, instant-messaging your friends and talking on the phone. You've tried this drug or that experience, and nothing satisfies. It really never ends. Solomon, who pretty much tried it all and had it all, said, "Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content" (Ecclesiastes 1:8 NLT). So, where do you find personal happiness? Let me first tell you where you won't find it. It will not come from this world. Period. End of sentence.
The fleeting happiness this world has to offer comes and goes, depending on your circumstances. If things are going reasonably well, we are happy. If they are not, we are unhappy. But you need to know this: "There are two sources of unhappiness in life. One is not getting what you want. The other is getting it." Maybe you've watched one of those TV programs about the poor steel worker in Pennsylvania who wins 50 million in the lottery and moves into a mansion.
You've thought to yourself, "If I were just rich, I know I would be happy." Really? What would the richest man in the world say about that? When John D. Rockefeller held that title, someone asked him how much money was enough. He replied, "Just a little bit more." Perhaps you have thought, "If I were really rich and famous, I would be happy!" Yet a very well-known Hollywood personality recently said of her peers, "Nobody would be a celebrity if they weren't severely damaged.
Honestly, I think we're damaged people and so we're looking for the love we never got. Nobody should look up to us or ever do anything we do. We're basically circus freaks. None of us is altruistic or any of that. We are pretty selfish and fear-driven people who need help." I want to tell you a little secret about finding personal happiness. Happiness is not really something that should be sought outright.
According to the Bible, if we seek to know God and discover His plan for our lives, we will truly find the happiness that has eluded us for so long. The ironic fact is that you can't find happiness by seeking it. You can only find it by seeking Him. As C.S. Lewis observed, "God designed the human machine to run on Himself." You see, the reason you have this emptiness inside is because you were made that way! There is nothing this world offers that can fill a void that was created for God Himself.
The Bible tells us that He has placed "eternity in [our] hearts" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are uniquely made in His very image. All the possessions, success, sex, fame, or power will not fill that void. Only God will. We as Americans are engaged in "the pursuit of happiness." But listen: Apart from God, you will never find the happiness you are searching for. So stop chasing happiness, and instead follow the Lord with all of your heart, strength and mind. The happiness you have been watching for so intently out the front window will slip quietly through the back door of your heart. And it will come to stay. God guarantees it. As millions upon millions across the world and throughout history could testify: "Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!" (Psalm 114:15)