Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Mark 8:34-37
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11
During one of my late night infomercial binges, I came across an advertisement that was touting a pillow as “the most comfortable pillow you will ever own.” I have to admit this piqued my interest as I tend to toss and turn most evenings. One pillow is too firm while another is too lumpy and don’t get me started on those paper thin ones.
Peace and tranquility, and most importantly, rest always allude me on my queen size mattress. In some regards, the same can be said about the perceived peace that a life focused on personal comfort and convenience provides us. It’s like a refreshing oasis that is just beyond our reach. We chase happiness which we believe will satisfy, but it never does.
Some of us are afraid that we will be disappointed in this life. We don’t want to miss out on anything here. After all, we only get one shot at this life, so we pour energy, focus, and attention on the things of this world. Our days are spent taking care, managing, and building up our kingdoms. We live for comfort and convenience hoping to find fulfillment in them. Media and culture confirm our decision by bombarding us with messages about “bigger, better, faster” being the sole way to true happiness.
Pursing comfort and convenience seems like the right path. We act in ways we think are best for us, based on our feelings, with little regard to the consequences of our decisions. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.” Comfort and convenience don’t allow our life to be simple when our quest is always for more. We continue to chase after the newest, latest and shiniest thing. This leaves us restless and unfulfilled. Consumerism can only function when discontentment reigns so we continue to pursue comfort and convenience and the crazy cycle continues to spin.
We make our life about all the things here on Earth thus missing real life for fear of losing it. We turn to lesser things for fulfillment and feeling alive. Jeremiah 2:13 compares those things we pursue to cracked cisterns that are incapable of holding water. No one is immune to this pursuit, even the wisest man to walk with earth, King Solomon (1 Kings 4:29-34). From pleasure and relationships to money and power, he had it all. Comfort and convenience defined Solomon’s life. Yet, he was still unfulfilled. Solomon finally gave up his fruitless search and declared his foolish pursuits as worthwhile as “chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11,17).
For a moment, let’s pretend that somehow, someway, we managed to gain the whole world just like King Solomon. When we spend our days chasing perishable things, and our days are up, what are we left with? Nothing. Would the pursuit of comfort and convenience be worth the effort? Jesus is posing the same question to us as He did to the disciples in Mark 8: What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?
Happiness by the world’s standard is fleeting at best, but the joy of the Lord is constant. Happiness is mostly based on circumstances while joy centers on knowing who you are in Christ and living out of that security. Jesus understood happiness is settling for something that is second rate. He wants us to experience the real thing, which is Himself. It breaks His heart that we are willing to settle for cheap imitations.
Motivators like convenience and comfort can accomplish many amazing things, but one problem they will never solve is quenching the yearnings of the human heart. At the core of these wants is a connection we are missing which can only be filled by God. These longings we are pursuing point to our longing for God. Being created in God’s image, we have a spiritual thirst that only He can satisfy. Author and theologian C.S. Lewis once said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
- What does focusing all of our attention and energy on ourselves cost us?
God, I’ve made a costly mistake. I’ve devoted so much time and energy focusing on my needs, my wants and my agenda. Pursuing these things always felt like the right thing. I thought if I don’t take care of myself, who will? But, You take care and provide for me in ways I cannot comprehend. You are where true life is found. All of my longings point me to Your grace. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.