When they settled Sonya into her ICU room they handed her a black button, which was attached to a black wire, that went to a very cool looking machine. Whenever Sonya hit the black button she immediately received some sort of pain relief, which obviously made her as happy as you can be, given that she had just been cut open and lost 2/3 of her liver. She is snoozing now, clutching her happy button.
As I’ve sat by her side over the past 24 hours, watching her squeeze this happy button time and time again, I couldn’t help but be grateful for it. I also couldn’t help but think a little more deeply about this concept.
I have a clever assortment of these little happy buttons in my life. Whenever I feel pain I grab one and give it a squeeze, hoping it will take away the pain. I kick into busyness mode, gaze endlessly into ESPN or the WWW, devise all manners of ways to make myself look good, act religious, and find ways to hide or avoid conflict. Hey — I have many other masterfully fabricated buttons, too, but I barely know you and I’ve been honest enough already. Your happy buttons might differ from mine, but you have a custom arsenal of them, too.
Our happy buttons work just like Sonya’s: they mask the pain. If one happy button doesn’t work, we’ll just grab another, and another, until we find something to help alleviate the misery. Given the failure rate of these buttons we need a bunch of them. But in the end, to the extent that we can get them to work, they only mask the problem; they do not solve it. Sonya’s happy juice masks the trauma in her body; it does not heal it.
There is a problem with a life devoted to happy buttons, with side-effects more life-threatening than a rotten liver. If the marginal “success” of your happy buttons anesthetizes you enough so that you never own up to the wretched illness that threatens you, you’ll never run to get the help that you need.
We are all very sick, and in need of a life-transfusion. Own up to it. We may limp along, sedated by happy juice from some failing buttons, but in the end, we have no hope but to secure life from some other source, from a truly healthy life. And this is precisely why Jesus came to earth, not to offer better happy buttons but to bring life for dead people who needed it.
This is what we were made for: life. Actually, we were made for Him, and along with Him — who is the only true alive One in the universe — we get life. We were not made for failing happy buttons, and we will never find life in our happy buttons, no matter how clever we are.
The sooner we own up to this the more quickly we might run to the One who can give us the life we’ve always longed for. So it might be a good life habit for all of us to take inventory of our happy buttons. Maybe that would help us abandon them and to cling to Him, the One who possesses the life we really want each time we scramble to push one of those stupid happy buttons.