This weekend, I heard a teen say, “I have a ton of friends, but I am lonely.” Even the popular are lonely! St Augustine’s words are still true today, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
Fame does not satisfy (ex: Whitney Houston), money does not satisfy, and neither do a lot of friends or relationships.
Why are people who have everything materially still unhappy? When I met the materially poor in Haiti, Africa, and Mexico, I was always struck by their joy despite their poverty. Then I look to the Saints who secluded themselves from the world to be with God, and they were so joyful. What is it that makes us happy?
Let’s look at what the Saints did to find joy. St. Francis lived some of his life in a hermitage in the mountains and was dirt poor. St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Avila lived in a cloistered (closed off to the world) convent most of their lives. Does that mean that we move to the desert to get away from the world? No, but it does mean that we have to turn away from worldly comfort and seek God. The Saints experienced perfect comfort, overwhelming love, and ecstasy (a state where a person’s mind is so focused on God that his senses are suspended and mind enlightened to a deeper spiritual reality) in prayer. They described their prayer as complete joy. To them, just being able to behold the face of Christ was the greatest happiness they experienced on earth.
Being a missionary, I have had to seek joy in simply being with Jesus. Living separated from material comforts and distractions like TV, shopping, romantic relationships, and money, I have had to rely on God to be my comfort, and I have never been happier in my life.
True joy, peace, and freedom does not come from the world. Our hearts long for something eternal, something sustaining: real love… God. Why do we keep looking other places for happiness? Why do we look to people or things to fill that loneliness and restlessness in us? Run to God. Only He can satisfy.