British author and philosopher G.K. Chesterton had a rosy outlook on life because he could find happiness in the small things around him. He once wrote these words: “Seeing the glory of God may not require making a trip to the mountains or buying a ticket to the theater, but only opening our eyes—because I believe untold resources for mental health and spiritual joy in God lie all around us if we would but open our eyes.” Elsewhere he wrote that he learned to be thankful for small blessings, like the fact that God chose to give us noses so that we can smell. If frogs could speak, Chesterton wrote, then surely they would thank God for giving them the ability to jump.
Let’s contrast Chesterton’s perspective with that of Charles Darwin. In his earlier years Darwin was a lover of art, music, literature, and poetry, and he was enamored by the animal kingdom. But later in life he would lament that he could no longer stand those things. He once took “great delight” in the arts, but he would later write in his autobiography, “But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music.”
Darwin continued: “My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts…the loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness.” He wondered why this was the new state of his mind, but he could not put forth an answer.
I have a theory. I believe Darwin lost his joy when he closed his mind to God. At a young age Darwin was training to be a minister, but as we all know, he would eventually reject the existence of God and credit the origin of the species to random chance and evolution. I believe Darwin knew deep down that he was wrong; he may have convinced others that there is no God, but he never convinced himself. This man that is heralded in our classrooms made himself miserable when he turned from his Maker.
On the other hand, Chesterton had resounding joy in his life because of his faith in God. He knew he was made on purpose, not the product of an unexplained Big Bang. Chesterton had a relationship with the God he was created to know, and that helped him be able to stop and smell the roses. This is exactly what Jesus promised us when He said, “These things I have spoken unto you that your joy may be full (John 15:11).”
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Darwin allowed the devil to steal his joy, kill his belief in God, and destroy his soul, while Chesterton abundantly enjoyed life. We must decide for ourselves if we want misery or joy.