Recently I came across the following quote from John Fawcett’s Christ Precious to Those Who Believe. Fawcett (1739-1817) was a British Baptist minister, theologian, poet, and hymn writer (most famous for writing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”).
This quotation gets to the heart of why we are so often unhappy and lack joy in life. I love the way Fawcett ties the lack of happiness when we lose temporal things we enjoy to Augustine’s concept of ordinate (proper, well-ordered) loves or affections, an idea C. S. Lewis talks about in The Four Loves.
“When the loss of any temporal enjoyment casts us into excessive despondency and dejection—it is evident that what we have lost, was the object of our inordinate love. The most innocent attachments cease to be innocent, when they press too strongly upon us! To cleave to any created object, and to look for happiness from it—is to make an idol of it—and set it up in God’s place. Should this object be a friend, a brother, a wife, or a child—the idolatry is still odious in the eyes of that God, to whom we owe our chief affection. Our warmest passions, our most fervent love, desires, hopes, and confidences—should always have God for their object. It is His desire that our happiness should not center in any of the good things of this life.”