There is nothing new under the sun. Yet there is a time when all things are new, at least once. This promise of the unknown drives us. Our curiosity compels us. We hold “new” as “improved” and “necessary.” This perceived need for discovery is preyed upon by advertisers and marketers, peddlers of endless new options, extorters of the human desire for novelty.
This novelty is intoxicating. It is strong drink to the discontent. It is the subtle belief that what we have – or who we are – is no longer enough. It’s the perversion of a right desire for wholeness.
The drive of discontentment is not new. It is as old as the garden, as subtle and juicy as our next lust or covet, and as fresh as our next Twitter break.
We believe newer is better. Without it we feel left behind, left out – we feel alone. That aloneness is too much for our shallow-skimming souls to bear. Our culture’s hearty “amen” for progress, speed and accumulation numbs us with the promise that getting more couldn’t hurt.
But has it helped? Alone with our possessions, are we any more fulfilled?
C.S. Lewis calls this the “absurd notion that the chief business of life is the progressive attainment of goods that we do not yet have, rather than the appreciation and enjoyment of goods we already have.”
There is nothing new under the sun, but we have to see it to believe it. We are all about the hunt but don’t know what to do with the capture. We want to give everything one chance to be what we’re looking for – to meet that expectation, to be that fulfillment. We will do whatever it takes to find it, whatever helps us avoid our own inability to change ourselves.
We’ve been disappointed enough to not trust all that we’ve been told. It’s second nature to distrust something that seems too right, too pure. The pure thing for us now is the untested relationship, unwrapped gadget, unseen show or desired purchase. In our search for freedom and fulfillment, the traditional roots of our identity have been cashed in for the novelty and discovery of our own perceived happiness.
There is nothing new under the sun and no end to the novel manifestations of old idols that captivate our eyes and numb our hearts to the reality of our discontent. This striving in our souls will not cease. Our hearts seek to find rest and will die trying.
There will be no end to options for us to distract our souls and starve our joys. But in Christ there is no end to the feast of love and focus of identity. There is no end to and no greater discovery than the ever-increasing joy found in relationship with God. Novelty finds no wear in the riches of His grace (Eph. 2:6-7). In Him, all things are made new to those adopted in Christ (Eph. 2:1; 4-5; Rom. 8:15). In Him, no fear whips us into frenzied schedules and looming debt. In Him, we can be still and know that the good thing cannot be bought and will never be taken away (Luke 10:42). In Him, we are freed from the gods of this world – freed from greatness, respect, friends, proving our worth from futility (Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me). In Him, contentment is in what we have – He said that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
How many times do we have to be heartbroken before we trust His goodness over our goods?