“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” —Jeremiah 29:13, NIV
You started on the Great Quest the moment you were born. It was many years perhaps before you realized it, before it became apparent that you were constantly searching–searching for something you’d never had, searching for something that was more important than anything else in life.
Sometimes you have tried to forget about the quest. Sometimes you have attempted to lose yourself in other things so there could be time and thought for nothing but the business at hand. Sometimes you may even have felt that you were freed from the need to go on searching for this nameless thing. But always you have been caught up in it again, always you have had to come back to your search.
You Are Not Alone
At the loneliest moments in your life you have looked at other men and women and wondered if they, too, were searching–searching for something they couldn’t describe but knew they wanted and needed. Looking at them you may have thought, These people are not on the Great Quest. These people have found their way.
Not so! You are not alone. All people are traveling with you, for everyone is on this same quest. All people are seeking the answer to the confusion, the moral sickness, the spiritual emptiness that oppresses the world. We are all crying out for guidance, for comfort, for happiness, for peace.
We are told that we live in the “age of anxiety.” Seldom in history have people faced so much fear and uncertainty. All the familiar props seem to have been knocked out from under us. We talk of peace but are confronted by war and terrorism at every turn. We devise elaborate schemes for security but have not found it. We grasp at every passing straw, and even as we clutch, it disappears.
For generations we have been running like frightened children, up first one blind alley and then another. Each time we have told ourselves, This path is the right one; this one will take us where we want to go. But each time we have been wrong.
The Happiness Illusion
We all recognize that the world has changed radically in the last one hundred years. We are aware of its increasing tempo, of the spirit of revolution that is sweeping away established landmarks and traditions, of the speed with which language, fashions, customs, housing, and our ways of living and thinking are being altered.
Our materialistic world rushes on with its eternal quest for happiness. Yet the more knowledge we acquire, the less wisdom we seem to have. The more economic security we gain, the more bored and insecure we become. The more everyday pleasure we enjoy, the less satisfied and contented we are with life. We are like a restless sea, rushing in waves toward a little peace here and little pleasure there but finding nowhere to stay that’s permanent and satisfying.
Yet inside us a little voice keeps saying, We were not meant to be this way; we were meant for better things. We have a feeling that there must be a fountain somewhere that contains the happiness that makes life worthwhile. Sometimes we feel we have obtained it–only to find it elusive, leaving us disillusioned, bewildered, unhappy, and still searching.
There are two kinds of happiness. One comes to us when our circumstances are pleasant and we are relatively free from troubles. The problem is that this kind of happiness is fleeting and superficial. When circumstances change–as they inevitably do–this kind of happiness evaporates like the early morning fog in the heat of the mid-day sun.
But there is another kind of happiness–the kind for which we all long and search. This second kind of happiness is a lasting inner joy and peace that survive any circumstance. It’s a happiness that endures, no matter what comes our way. Oddly, it may even grow stronger in adversity.
The happiness for which our hearts ache is one undisturbed by success or failure, one which dwells deep within us and gives inward peace and contentment, no matter what the surface problems may be. It’s the kind of happiness that stands in need of no outward stimulus.
This is the kind of happiness we need. This is the happiness for which our souls cry out and search relentlessly.
Is there any hope for this kind of happiness? Is there any way out of our dilemma? Can we really find personal peace?
Yes! But only if we look in the right place.