True Happiness: To Be Found Only in Christ

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
A book entitled, "The Mirage of Life," tells a very familiar story; namely, that "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away." 1 Pet. 1:2424For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: (1 Peter 1:24). Men have striven all down through the centuries to find happiness in this world. They have sought it in various ways. Many have reached the pinnacle of glory among men, only to find it vanish and leave them disillusioned and broken.. They would be able to look back and say that the words of Ecclesiastes were true: "Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun." Eccles. 2:1111Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
It is not only ancient history that tells such a story; the records in our days prove the same fact. Think of many of the great leaders of the nations only ten years ago who have gone down ingloriously. Where is the glory of Mussolini, of Hitler and his generals, of Tojo and his helpers. And one of the great French heroes, Marshal Henri Philippe Petain, is coming to the end of his life in prison. Once honored by his nation, the aged marshal must die in disgrace.
We are reminded of the lines found among the papers of an educator; speaking of fame he said:
"Her wreath mocks my brow-will it hang o'er my tomb?
Too much I have labored, too willingly gave
My thoughts to the world-and have earned but a grave."
We know that even if a man gained the whole world and died without having first lost it, he would still be a great loser if he died unsaved. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" But very many prove the fleeting character of all in this world before they are called upon to die. And behind many a smile is a broken, disappointed heart.
The tragic death of James V. Forrestal is another reminder of the vanity of all here. He had risen in this world from a humble start to become a millionaire. Nor did wealth alone mark his accomplishments; he went into government in 1940 and rose to become a great national, and even international, figure. He became the Secretary of the Navy during the great war, and later, in recognition of his ability, he was made the first Secretary of National Defense, thus heading a potential war machine stretched around the world which would make the military might of the Caesars look very small indeed. And yet he took his own life after leaving the lines from an ancient Greek poet on his bed. We might quote some words from this poem to show the darkness that had come over him:
"Worn by waste of time-
Comfortless, nameless, hopeless...
When reason's day
Sits rayless-joyless-quenched in cold decay,
Better to die...."
What gloom! what despondency and hopelessness! are here expressed.
But let us turn from the disappointing scenes where man's glory fades and joy vanishes, to the happy portion of the believer. Did the Lord Jesus ever forget His servants? Did He ever fail to stand by those who were faithful to Him? Never, never. A Pilate might serve Caesar well and sell the Lord of glory to curry his favor, only to lose it and be banished a few years later; but the Lord will never treat His servants thus.
When the Apostle Paul got into trouble in Jerusalem, the Lord stood by him in prison and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul." He was not left alone. And when he came to the end of his earthly course he wrote: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day." 2 Tim. 4:6-86For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6‑8). There was no dejection with Paul-no "comfortless, nameless, hopeless, rayless, joyless," with him. No, he knew whom he had believed, and knew too that his faithful Lord would reward him in a coming day.
Nor was Peter despondent or discouraged after a life of service to his Lord. He came to the end of his pilgrimage and wrote with calmness and assurance, saying that our Lord Jesus Christ had shown him how he was to leave this scene (2 Pet. 1:1414Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. (2 Peter 1:14)). He was to glorify God in his death (John 21:1919This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (John 21:19)).
And when the beloved Stephen-"a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost"-was about to be stoned by an angry mob who refused his testimony for Christ, he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." What a sight he was privileged to see! He was sustained by seeing his Lord in glory, as it were, waiting to receive him (Acts 7).
The Lord sent a special word of comfort and encouragement to the saints at Smyrna who were suffering great trials: "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Rev. 2:1010Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10).
We are fully persuaded that the only truly happy path through this changing scene is one of truehearted devotedness to the Lord. Such a path is richly blessed in the present, and has the sure reward of glory at the end. The Lord whom the Christian serves "is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love." Strange it is indeed that we should ever seek anything here on which God has written, "vanity and vexation of spirit," but rather we should seek "those things which are above," and have our minds set on them. Then instead of disappointment we have the happiness of His approval now, and shall have His "well done" in the future.