The Paradox of Losing Your Life to Find It
He who finds his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 28:20
Christianity is absolutely not about pleasing God so that you can get what you want. Yet in a sense, also it is. This is the paradox.
Modern society constantly shows so many things that are supposed to make us happy. Most of them really do seem so appealing. Many of them have billions and billions of dollars invested in them. To make them seem as attractive as is humanly possible. Using every imaginable combination of possibility, technology, fantasy, longing, and repetition. One huge example is the thoughts and ideas we absorb from the modern entertainment industry — which penetrate far deeper into our minds and our beings than we can even imagine.
Some of these things do seem to be very pleasurable, especially at first. Though often this is a distracted kind of pleasure — which at the same time as being pleasurable, it also (if you stop and really think about it enough) feels like you're not 100% really there, and something is missing from it.
Christianity is about learning to please God, rather than ourselves. To do what Jesus instructs us to do. And to not do what the old, unbelieving-world-inspired parts of us think will bring satisfaction. On the surface, this may seem like a miserable idea — a path of self-denial that must surely lead to a sterile, uninteresting, unsatisfying life?
The paradox is that this turns out to be completely untrue. By the act of deliberately not seeking first our own happiness... is how we become truly happy.
This seems completely illogical. However it's been my own experience, and that of millions of other Christians.
The converse is also true — that chasing after what we think will make us happy, rarely does make us truly happy. And even when it does, it's a temporary and/or hollow kind of happiness. When I think back to my pre-Christian moments of cheap thrills, I realise that the solid, deep, wonderful, peaceful, really happy feelings of just being alive (and feeling close to God), which are my most treasured moments, were not there.
After a while most of the time we know the thrills are fake, but we're so lost in that pattern that we don't know any other way of bringing satisfaction, even for a moment.
The paradox is that the way to get yourself back is to give yourself and your life to Jesus.