"What are you giving up for Lent?" That was the question my mom asked us every year at this time. We sacrifice or give up something because it is our human nature to always want more of what we have or need.
That was the sin of the prodigal son. He wanted more...more money, more freedom, more food, more women. So he asks for his share of his father's inheritance. But when he got everything he thought he wanted, he is still not happy. In fact, he is miserable. Why? He had what he desired.
Christian author CS Lewis said that the problem with human nature is not that our desires are too strong. Rather, he said that our desires are too weak! We are far too easily pleased & satisfied with the things we run after in this life. We settle for small pleasures like money, sex, & prestige, when God wants to give us so much more than that! God wants to give us intimacy, a deep sense that we are loved, that we're good, that we're gifted, that we're useful. What made the prodigal son really happy when he returned home? The fatted calf, the ring, the new clothes? None of that. It was the joy of knowing that his father loved him and forgave him.