Do our fears and worries have an end? When does this end come? The answer points to our hopes and goals for the future. It also affects our concept of happiness and its achievability. There are three main worldviews answering this question.
Focus on the afterlife
The first concept focuses on the afterlife as a solution to our problems here and now. Our fears and worries have an end and it comes after we die. It is impossible to achieve complete happiness and peace in this life so there is no point looking for it. We define happiness as the absence of problems, worries, fears, and suffering.
The problem with this point of view, especially for believers, is that it leads to passivity. It also leads to failure to take personal responsibility and to exercise faith. This way of thinking lures us into false security and self-reassurance. We just have to endure life here knowing that we shall find full happiness and peace only in Heaven after we die. We transfer the responsibility for our mental state and the achievement of happiness solely on God. This concept enables the development of victim mentality that leads to depression, paralysis, fear of life and fear of overcoming challenges.
Focus on life here and now
On the opposite pole lies the thinking with a focus on life here and now. There is no point in waiting and looking for something we shall get after we die. The afterlife is ignored or completely excluded. We define happiness as an absence of problems, worries, suffering. Or as an overcoming of all obstacles blocking the fulfillment of one’s own goals and desires.
At the heart of this thinking is the desire for self-realization and self-satisfaction with or without God. It can adopt hedonistic forms like a life of calm carelessness, eating and drinking, and surrendering oneself to pleasures. The problem with this concept is that it partly or completely excludes God from the picture. The ego and the self become our god whom we serve, or God is present, but without the prospect of eternity. We treat God mainly as a means to the goal. As someone who is helpful in solving the problems in this life and in achieving our goals and desires.
The Apostle Paul calls this condition miserable because it completely excludes the fact of the resurrection. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)
The biblical concept – focus on life in its wholeness
The third concept focuses on life in its wholeness. Life here and now is lived responsibly with the prospect and consciousness of eternity. The underlying understanding is that our fears, worries, and problems will not cease to appear while we are on this earth. However, we can be free of them, expecting their complete disappearance in eternity. We define happiness not as an absence of anxieties or problems but as an inviolable mental state of peace and deep joy in everyday life. Christ says: „I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Through faith we can appropriate this victory and live in internal peace, free of anxiety and fear, in all circumstances.
The eternal life that God offers to everyone through His Son is much greater than any human concept and imagination of self-realization. This complete, abundant life involves the victory over our fears and worries here, in every situation. This victory is worked out when we grow in the fear of the Lord and when we allow His Spirit of power, love, and self-control to lead us and rule in us.
This biblical perspective reflects the balance between our and God’s responsibility and allows us to live responsibly trusting God for everything out of our control and waiting for the time when: „He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
What are your hopes for the future? How do you define happiness? Which of these concepts reflects your way of thinking? I would like to hear what you think in the comments!