"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house upon the rock."
The other night I was hanging out at my wives place of employment waiting for her to get off of work. I was sitting at the bar, nursing my diet Dr Pepper, when a regular of the place sat down next to me and started to chat. Over the course of the conversation it came up that I was a Pastor. After apologizing for his cursing(which I don't really care about), he asked me how I am able to encourage people when the world is so messed up.
In the parable of the wise man there is an unstated accepted reality; The rains will come. It doesn't say, he built his house on a rock so there were no storms in his life.
CS Lewis once said that our problem is not that we don't believe that God will see us through storms, we are just worried about how much it will hurt while we go through them. We have bought into a philosophy of life that tells us that the highest ideal in the human existence is "happiness".
This is a terrible lie. This is a destructive lie. It is a goal that when we set our sights on obtaining we are guaranteed to never possess it in permanent consistency.
What is happiness anyways? How do you define it? And there is the problem. How do YOU define it? While there is nothing inherently wrong with the experience of "happiness" it is an ambiguous and subjective concept that is constantly in flux.
When I was about 13 years old my best friend and I spent an entire night sleeping in shifts so we could complete an entire video game in one sitting. It was awesome. If you asked me if I thought staying up all night to play video games was something I wanted to do this weekend, I would want to vomit. As I have changed and grown and my priorities have evolved, what made me happy when I was 13 would do the opposite for me today in my 30's.
We change. Sometimes we change daily. When our goals for life become "to be happy" we have set for ourselves an impossible standard that leaves us always coming up empty in the ultimate sense. If I based my future around the fun experience of staying up all night playing video games what would my life look like today? When happiness becomes the standard we become arrested in our development and are locked in a spiral of ever decreasing experiential happiness.
Happiness, as it is most often sought for, is ultimately a selfish pursuit. If happiness is the goal, it is rare that others will be brought into consideration. And even acts of perceived selflessness are rooted in feeling good about oneself, or, helping create or maintain a personal image that gives happiness. And, when there is no longer a direct sense of happiness being experienced by the selflessness that had previously been shown, it will come to an end.
This goal of happiness does not protect against the ravages of the storms that the world throws at us. We will all suffer at some point, if we aren't suffering now. The foolish man builds his life on the sifting and ever changing sands of "happiness". When life creates change, when circumstances eliminate the source of where you sought happiness, or, if the former source of happiness is now a source of pain, you are lost.
How do we help people(and ourselves) in a world that is full of such crap? Where is encouragement found when this world is such a mess?
Our ultimate goal needs to be Truth. The Ultimate, capital T Truth, is found in God and God alone.
When we become rooted no longer in self, but Truth, there develops a sense and experience of security and peace. The self is going to betray you. The things you seek after for visceral momentary feelings of "happiness" will turn on you. Instead, plant yourself on the unmovable foundation that does not remove storms, but takes the rain that floods and makes it rain that grows.
What are you seeking? Are you seeking happiness, or truth? If you seek happiness, you will have neither. If you seek truth, you will have both.
Storms are coming, are you really prepared?