That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you! [2 Chronicles 1:7 (NLT)]
No one is really happy merely because he has what he wants, but only if he wants things he ought to want. [St. Augustine]
In the many television tributes to the recently deceased actor Gene Wilder, a scene from the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory frequently has been aired. In it, Willy tells Charlie not to forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted. When the boy asks what that was, Wonka replies, “He lived happily ever after!”
While that exchange made for a nice ending to a children’s film, getting everything we want is hardly the way to guarantee living happily ever after—unless, of course, we only want the right things! Yet, even wanting the right things is no guarantee of happiness. Look at Solomon; when God asked what he wanted, the young king requested the right thing—wisdom. God rewarded him not just with wisdom but also with riches, possessions, honor and fame. Here was a king who truly got all that he wanted plus more. Surely, with everything that Solomon received, he should have lived happily ever after.
Nevertheless, all the wisdom and wealth in the world could not give meaning to Solomon’s life. Although gifted with wisdom, he failed to use it when he broke God’s rules for kings by amassing horses, collecting a harem of 1000, accumulating riches by excessive taxation, sealing alliances by marrying foreign women and worshiping pagan gods. Although he got everything he wanted, Solomon did not find happiness. His words in Ecclesiastes show us how disillusioned, bitter and disappointed this wealthy sage was when he realized how empty his life had been without God at its center.
Getting what we want will only lead to a happily ever after if we want what God wants for us and if we use His blessings with a wisdom far greater than Solomon’s. Let us never forget that God’s answers to our prayers often are not what we think will make us happy. They are, however, always what we need. Moreover, God has already given us all that we need for our happily ever after: His beloved Son, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. [C.S. Lewis]