Are You World-Weary?
I contend that there are two types of people:
those who love this world, and
those who don’t.
Which one are you?
If you’re young, I’ll give you a pass. The world is new and exciting for you. Life feels effortless. New emotions to explore, new experiences to absorb. You seek novelty—in self-expression, in personal growth, in relationships, and in the products marketed to you. But this kind of worldly love seems to lose its grip around the age of 30 or so as you become resigned to the sad state of affairs that is Planet Earth.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t find enjoyment. You absolutely should! Find things you love that bring you joy; however, you may eventually realize that this joy is only temporary, a distraction from a certain kind of world-weariness. I think this will be especially true if you are the type of person (as most of us are) who has experienced a good deal of suffering or empathetically taken upon your shoulders the suffering of others, maybe friends or family. (I do hope that in those situations, others have been there for you and that you have been there for others. To love our fellow man as ourselves is truly all that we have.)
For those of you who don’t love the world (maybe you’re a little older, or maybe you never loved this world): congratulations, this world is not meant to be loved. It is plagued by disease, famine, war, greed, lust, destruction, despair, monotony, and even a sense of being imprisoned by our circumstances, jaded by the 40+ hour workweeks that repeat on end for 40+ years, and that’s if we’re lucky. It’s all contrived. It’s all a racket to make the rich richer, to make sure you (unless you’re not a middle-class salary slave like me) have just enough to keep you going and not much more. Of course, with hard work sometimes comes upward mobility, which I don’t particularly love as I can already afford a sense of security and am not thrilled by the idea of purchasing ever-expensive houses, cars, clothes, and the like. Those things don’t bring me joy.
There’s a wise story in the Bible in a book called Ecclesiastes. It’s the first-hand account of a king who was unimaginably wealthy in his day. He had everything and anything that he could ever want. This king goes on to express that, although he partook in all the pleasures of his day and strove to love the world, there is nothing new under the sun, nothing to do that hasn’t been done. All of life is merely a chasing after the wind, fleeting and meaningless. Get it? Pointless! All we have is to take pride in a hard day’s work and to eat, drink, and be merry. And, I would say, to love our neighbors. Anything beyond that is like building a self-serving house of cards that can easily come to ruin.
The earth is not our true home. That is a comforting statement for me. I can tell you from my profound personal experience that we serve a God who knows us very, very intimately. He is a God that goes all the way out to infinity and all the way down to you and every hair on your head, and smaller. The Kingdom of Heaven will far surpass our temporary afflictions here on earth. Put your hope in that, and like in Ecclesiastes, take pride in the work you do here on earth, and don’t forget to seek out the things that bring your joy: reading a good book; enjoying the company of friends, family, pets; helping those less fortunate; personal growth of any kind; and holding on to a deep sense of hope that what waits for us beyond this world will surpass our wildest dreams.
Here’s hoping for a smooth ride.