Why are there so many people who have their basic needs met and are so unhappy and depressed?
If there were no God, life would be nothing more than matter plus chance plus luck. Happiness, therefore, would be a necessary result of pleasure. But things are not quite that way. People that having everything but God seem to have nothing.
Interestingly, the incidence of deep sadness and depression is directly proportional to the degree of development in a country and to the socioeconomic status of the person. If there were no God, it wouldn’t be that way. Pleasure would always bring happiness, period.
The truth is that there’s something to be filled in our lives that not all the wealth in the world could fulfill. It’s very common to see very successful businessmen falling into depression and sadness right after getting to the pick of their careers. When they get there, they realize that all the money and position they looked for are not able to fulfill that void in their lives. When they get to the top, they realize there’s nothing there.
C. S. Lewis, addressing this issue, said something very interesting:
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. (CS Lewis)
In fact, there are some desires that only things from another world can satisfy. Only God is big enough for that. Living life without God is like a being in a race where the finish line is also in motion: always missing something, things are never good enough, there is always sadness in life.
Many people, not knowing what to do with the emptiness of their existence, and not wanting to allow God in their lives, decide to take paths that will lead nowhere. These are the man-centered paths, not God’s ones. Let’s see some:
- Path 1: People buy more (but enjoy less)
Many people think that purchasing things will solve the emptiness problem in their lives. Therefore, they fall into a compulsive buying behavior that becomes addictive because as they realizes that the thing they just bought didn’t fulfill their lives they immediately look for another thing to buy, an so on.
In fact, people never bought so much as they are doing in nowadays. What we buy today is already obsolete tomorrow ad it’s time to go shopping again.
For those who do not have Christ and seek satisfaction in the goods they buy, their task is endless. Only God is big enough to fulfill the gap in our soul.
I’d like to make t clear that purchasing things, increasing financially, and being successful are not themselves the problem. The problem appears when someone idolizes these things, when someone tries to make those things what will give meaning to his life. Those who undertake such way are in fact prisoners in the worst of all prisons: the prison that accompanies the person wherever he goes.
- Path 2: People look for more convenience (but they have less time for everything)
It’s amazing how communication is instantaneous. A person in Japan, with the use of technology, can communicate with another in Brazil at a very low cost or even for free.
Our cars go faster; meals are precooked if not ready for consumption at any convenience store or 24/7 supermarket; the letters are emails and arrive at their destination faster than the time we would need to glue the stamps on those ancient envelopes; we have the Internet to download books as soon as we buy them, magazines, virtual shopping, etc. The fact is that today’s world is infinitely more convenient.
But what does the logic behind this convenient world bring us? It brings lack of time, stress, and boredom. How can we have it all, and lose much of what is really essential to our life quality?
Only Christ can give us the peace we seek, only Christ reverses this nefarious logic. Without Christ, the world is like a run in circles where people want to go faster and faster without realizing that it’ll lead nowhere.
Please take into account what Solomon said about his own attempt to fulfill his life:
I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2: 3-11)
- Path 3: People invest much more in their houses (but much less in their homes)
Today’s society encourages everyone to have sophisticated homes, with equipment that are capable of doing anything in the world. Televisions are modern, the sounds are sophisticated, and we even paint the walls with unique custom colors.
But what about taking care of our families, of our homes? Many have broken families, destroyed homes. Many people are disproportionately devoted to their work and career. So many people have given all their precious years of life for what is not worth it, things that put them away from their wives, their children, and especially from God.
When people take God out of the equation of life, they no longer have the One who is able to give meaning to their existence. The result is disastrous and the first victim after the person himself is his own family. Oh, some many will only realize late in life that they lost everything.
In conclusion, we can say that no money or riches will fulfill the emptiness of our lives. Only God is able to do this and there is only one way in which this can occur, allowing Him to come and dwell in us. In Christianity, you do not need to build your way to God. He’s the one who always wants to come to you. The way it is already built, you simply need to decide to follow him. If you really want to have a fulfilled life, all that that is needed is to express this will to God, and your life will never be the same.