Material vs. Spiritual Wellbeing

Life can be a struggle.  Sometimes it’s a material struggle.  You might be short of money and food, or not have a decent place to live. In my life, more often it’s been an emotional and spiritual struggle with stress and other negative emotions. Why am I worried so much? Why am I not fulfilled? Why am I not happier? Maybe you’ve experienced this as well. In our culture, it’s easy for these issues to merge, and we may seek fulfillment or happiness through our material circumstances. But it just doesn’t work.

Occasionally, I reflect on how much easier my physical life is compared with that of people in other times – perhaps the Israelites in slavery in Egypt, or frontier Americans in the 1700’s. I have so much more that they did. My house is clean, comfortable and air conditioned. It even has a swimming pool in the backyard. I have electricity, running water and indoor plumbing. My job is not heavy labor and it pays well. I could go on and on. Living in America in my particular circumstances, I am sure that I am materially better off than the vast majority of individuals living in the rest of the world. In fact, it seems likely to me that I have a better deal than 99% of people who have ever lived.

Despite this abundance, my life is not all smooth sailing.  Inside I struggle.  How can I be truly at ease with life and its ups and downs?  What do I need to help me feel fulfilled and at peace?  Clearly it’s not material things. Otherwise I’d have it by now. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that nothing we can do or have here on earth will fulfill us.  We know as Christians that only God can give us the peace we seek.

As I continue to follow Jesus, I am getting some of that peace. The internal struggle goes on, but it’s less intense, and I have someone to help me. Material things seem less important. At the same time, I am more grateful for what I do have. It been a slow process, but it’s nice to realize I’m better than I was and still improving.  I plan to keep walking.

Let’s go together.