The Difference Between Immediate Pleasure and Lasting Joy

The Difference Between Immediate Pleasure and Lasting Joy

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed . . . He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Daniel 6:10

As I was in the middle of a long workout yesterday, I distracted my mind from the drudgery by contemplating the lesson of Daniel and the lion’s den. In the story, King Darius of Persia demanded his people pray to no one but himself for 30 days. Daniel however, refused to turn from God, simply to save himself, and continued praying as he always had. For this, he was thrown into a den of lions, where God saved him from certain death.

It’s easy for me to think the story is about heroic, miraculous outcomes, but history is full of obedient martyrs who met violent deaths. As I contemplated this, while box jumping yesterday, I asked myself why I was box jumping. It was not particularly fun. In fact, it was painful at the time. I realized though, that I was refusing comfort now, to attain later what I truly wanted. This is the lesson of Daniel.

Daniel could have easily avoided the lion’s den by praying where no one would have seen him. He could have done the expedient, comfortable thing, but instead, Daniel denied his immediate desires (safety) to do what was right. Had Daniel done the easy thing, he would have distanced himself from God and missed the miracle of being saved.

We too, daily face a hundred opportunities to choose immediate pleasure or lasting joy. We can sleep in, or we can get up early to meet with God. We can indulge in our appetite now, or we can find joy later in eating healthy.

I’m not suggesting that we must embrace of life of misery, never knowing the pleasure of food or sleeping late. I’m suggesting that the only way to truly know lasting joy is to refuse to find our happiness in immediate gratification. We settle for mediocrity and misery when take the shortcut to pleasure now. If we want to know authentic joy, like Daniel, we must choose to do what’s right, even when it’s uncomfortable.

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