I’m not quite sure why there are people in this world who believe that we humans are basically good. Even if you have a nice job, live in a nice neighborhood, have a family of nice law-abiding citizens, are surrounded by good friends, sooner or later an uncomfortable situation or conflict with another human is inevitable that should bring to our attention just how messed up we as humans really are.
Thankfully, our being messed up inside isn’t the end of the story. Most of us who have found the ultimate purpose and meaning to life had to travel a road of dissatisfaction and disappointment in ourselves and others before our “Eureka!” moment–our epiphany. In the end what matters is that you arrived there, not necessarily how you got there. Dissatisfaction and disappointment with politicians, government, family, friends, churches, employment situations, material possessions, and other things in this world are golden opportunities for the Lord to reveal to us that our ultimate satisfaction in life can only come when we become internally content in our relationship with him in spite of our outward circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13).
Even one of the richest, wisest, most powerful men who ever lived–King Solomon–had to eventually come to this conclusion. In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, who had just about everything people in his time could possibly dream of having, was left with the feeling of being surrounded by worthlessness. He tried his hand at comedy, all kinds of wines and vineyards, fancy architecture, agriculture, hiring lots of employees, silver and gold mines and all the jewelry and furnishings made from them, and the latest and greatest live bands and singers. Then after acquiring all of it, he looked around at all of it and realized that none of it gave him the ultimate contentment he yearned for (Eccl. 2:1-11). Solomon was drawn to the conclusion that the only way to truly enjoy life was to recognize the things one had in life, whether little or much, were from God and to be thankful to God for them by fearing him and keeping his commandments (Eccl. 2: 24; 12:13-14).
God blessed us with the good things in this world, which are temporary, so we can be mindful of what Paul teaches us by the Spirit. Namely, to “use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away,” 1 Corinthians 7:31. John provides us with an additional witness of this principle when he commands us to “[l]ove not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever,” 1 John 2:15-17. The things of this world are fleeting–passing away. That’s why satisfaction with whatever this world has to offer, including its empty philosophies, doesn’t last even for those who chase after the world’s things. Better to shoot for stuff that lasts forever. That’s my goal even when I highlight the messed up situations that take place in this fallen world.
Harry A. Gaylord