I saw printed on a t-shirt these words: “The best is good enough for me.” Perhaps whoever wrote that got it from Winston Churchill who once said, “My tastes are simple; I am easily satisfied with the best.” And Winston Churchill (1874-1965), for all of his 90 years, did have the opportunity to enjoy the very best of everything life had to offer. He was born into British royalty, wealth, and privilege. From the beginning, he had servants waiting on him hand and foot; he was educated by the best tutors England had to offer; as a child he had the opportunity to meet the world’s rich and famous; and he was blessed with a brilliant mind. Throughout his life, he could go wherever he wanted to go and do whatever he wanted to do, all the while enjoying the best food, the best cigars, and the best whiskey. He first wanted to be a soldier, and saw action all over the world, rising to the ranks of First Admiral of the Navy. He also wanted to be in politics, and he was in Parliament by the time he was in his early 30’s. He eventually served two terms as Prime Minister, along the way inspiring and leading Great Britain in its resistance to the Nazis, their ‘finest hour,’ as he called it. And, he wanted to be a writer, saying, “I know history will be kind to me because I intend to write it;” and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Wealth, challenge, prestige, fame, and success in many areas– Churchill had it all and enjoyed it all. And so he knew what he was talking about when he said, “My tastes are simple; I am easily satisfied with the best.” He had always enjoyed the best of everything.
But Winston Churchill was actually not satisfied with the best. He enjoyed all of the best life had to offer, but even so, he oftentimes found life itself to be most unsatisfying. Having it all did not make Winston Churchill happy, and he fought a lifelong battle against despair. His depression was so severe at times that he would not stand too close to the edge at a train station or too close to a cliff, fearing that he might not be able to resist the impulse to jump out and end it all. It was perhaps the intensity of his inner despair that drove him to get his mind on so many other things with such intense levels of outward activity and accomplishment. There is no way to know for certain the psychological causes of his despair, but it is a well known fact that Churchill battled depression all his life.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Why do you spend your labor on that which does not satisfy? The Lord says, ‘Come to me and hear me so that your soul may live.’ Seek the Lord while he may be found… Call upon him while he is near, and then you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” This verse does not mean that a believer will never get depressed. We continue to be sinners in a sinful world, and times of despair will come to us all. Isaiah wrote those words to believers then, and they apply to believers now, as well as to unbelievers. I do not know if Winston Churchill believed in Jesus or not, but such belief does not mean one will never be depressed. However, what the verse does tell us is what will satisfy us and what will not. The things of this world, wonderful as they are, will never satisfy, even if we get it all and enjoy it all for 90 years, as did Churchill. And we should, as Churchill did, give of ourselves in duty and service to others. That is good and admirable and what we are called to do. But even that, by itself, will not satisfy us.
What the verse does do is it points out the way; it points to the only place that true joy and peace can be found. “Seek the Lord,” it says, “Call upon him,” it says, “and then you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” It does not say that we will never experience a lack of joy or peace, but that we will be go out in joy, and be led forth in peace. There is movement suggested there. The verse points to where peace and joy are found, and speaks of our movement towards those things. In the New Testament Paul would write of such the peace and joy that is found in faith and then add, “not that I have already attained all that, but I press on toward what is before me.” With Jesus, we may not always be at perfect peace yet, but we know where it is found, and we know that we can be on our way to that place where there will be that peace that passes all understanding. “My peace I give to you,” said Jesus, “and that is peace not like the world gives, which is a peace that will be taken away.” But, said Jesus, the peace we will find in him will be an eternal peace. (continued…)
Isaiah 55:2-3a — Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you…
Isaiah 55:6…12a — Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near… You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace…
John 16:33 — (Jesus said), “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.”
Philippians 3:12 — Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you. –Augustine