So, what makes you happy?

One of more often quoted C. S. Lewis lines is from his sermon, “Weight of Glory”: “We are far too easily pleased.”

The idea arrests us, cutting through our cultural Attention Deficit Disorder.

Too easily pleased? Everything within us says that can’t be. We always want more. More things, more money, more excitement, more high tech devices, more meaningful relationships, more time, more entertainment, more food, more love. How can he say that we are far too easily pleased while we exhaust ourselves chasing the desire du jour?

The answer to the apparent riddle, of course, is that we are settling for things which can never satisfy. The Prophet Jeremiah calls them “leaky cisterns that don’t hold water,” things like prosperity, full stomachs, fulfilling careers, and varying degrees of sexual expression. Today we are pleased, if this or that happens. But tomorrow, after it happens, after we get what will please us, we wake up empty, and even jaded. Once again we were wrong. Once again real satisfaction, evades us, and we take one more downward step into the pit of cynicism and depression.

The problem is not the things we desire, for God has given us all of these things richly for us to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). That’s right. God has provided these things. So why don’t they make us truly happy? The answer is in the reading of the whole verse: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”

The ultimate reality in all of this is that we were made to set our hope upon the God who made us, and anything short of that becomes some sort of idolatry, a falling down before the gods of happiness rather than the God of all Joy. We settle for the gift when we could have the Giver, and so are far, far too easily pleased. Augustine put it well in this prayer:

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

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