Happiness Has A Shelf Life

“So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

– Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

Have you ever noticed that happiness has a pretty short shelf life?  There are so many things in life that give us a quick hit but ultimately leave us unsatisfied.  Those things aren’t necessarily bad; they can even be quite good.  The problem is they just don’t last.  A good cup of coffee seems to buy 2-3 hours of bliss in my world.  A great date night with Laura might carry over for a day or two.  An awesome vacation might last for a week or two.  But none of it lasts.  It all fades.

Sometimes it fades slowly and some times it crashes dramatically.  The awesome night on the town is obliterated by a killer headache the next day.  A few hours of lustful passion is overwhelmed by guilt and shame on the way home in the morning.  The need to tell someone off ends up killing a friendship.  The “retail therapy” shopping trip just pushes you further into debt.

That’s what Solomon is warning us about in this passage.  All of our best accomplishments will ultimately let us down.  The high won’t last.  We’ll enjoy it for a moment and then desperately start looking for our next hit.  We’re always searching and striving, never satisfied, always yearning for what’s next, what’s more, what’s better.

The story of humanity is a story of thirsty souls.  That’s why Jesus’ words are so compelling, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:13-14)  He was talking to a broken woman by a well who kept looking for happiness in relationships.  But He might as well be talking right to us.

In Jesus we find a joy that never fades.  In Him, we find everything our souls are craving.  His mercies are new every day.  His promises endure forever.  He’s constantly good and working for our good.  He’s fully aware of the desperate need of our souls and He’s fully able to satisfy the thirst.

Jesus has no shelf life.  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb.13:8)  Let’s not get so caught up in the temporary, the fleeting and the fading.  Let’s pursue the fountain of living water and allow Him to satisfy our souls fully and completely.

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