Have you ever noticed how once you obtain a possession that you have desired for a long time, the joy that you receive from it begins to diminish the moment that ownership begins? This seems to be true of our achievements as well. There is no lasting satisfaction. And then think of some great pleasurable experience – once it is over, the euphoria from it fades. Have you ever stopped to wonder, “Why does this happen?”
Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician, had some great insight into this phenomenon. He said that human beings are the most paradoxical of all of God’s creatures. We are the creatures of the greatest grandeur, since we are designed in His image. However, we experience the greatest misery of all of His creatures.
The reason for our misery is not intuitive; it is that we are able to think and reflect upon our own existence. This also is one of the reasons that we are so grand.
It seems that no matter where we are in our lives, no matter how well it is going, we can always seem to contemplate a better life than the one that we are currently living. If only my marriage were better. If only I had a greater income or a larger house… What if I were a member of this club or could afford this vacation? Don’t we often think that we could be happier and better off than we currently are?
And then, should we ever be able to obtain, achieve, or experience what our hearts have yearned for over the years, we may initially experience an energy or an adrenaline surge. It makes us come temporarily alive.
But after a while, generally only a short while, the energy and excitement we experience begins to wane. There is a kind of sleepy dissatisfaction that takes its place, and soon we begin to find our hearts to be restless once again.
Ravi Zacharias has said, “The loneliest moment in life is when you have experienced (or achieved) the ultimate, and it has let you down.”
I believe that Jesus puts his finger on this issue in a short parable in Matthew 13: 45-46
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
The merchant that is searching for this pearl represents the long human quest for meaning and fulfillment. In the parable, he must have already possessed many small pearls. He may have purchased them in hope that they would provide the satisfaction he was looking for. Yet he still was seeking the ultimate pearl. When he finds it, he gladly sells all of them in order to possess that “one pearl of great value.”
I believe that Jesus is telling us that “I am what your heart has been longing for, but the cost is great. Surrender your life to me. Set aside all those other things you are chasing after, and give me pre-eminence in your life.” Once we make that decision, we will suddenly find that we have everything that we have been looking for.