It seems that humans have always been seeking the secrets of unending wealth and of eternal or at least long life.
From antiquity, alchemists have attempted to turn base metals into noble metals such as gold or silver and they have also been seeking the so-called Elixir of Youth.
Drug Therapy that Reverses Ageing
Perhaps we might, just possibly, be witnessing the partial fulfilment of one of these ambitions. An intriguing story was published this week in the journal “Cell” that suggests a drug has been discovered that can reverse ageing – at least in mice.
American scientists from Harvard Medical School have identified a chemical NAD+, which is a naturally occurring drug in living cells, but one which is ordinarily depleted over time. This loss contributes to the ageing process through muscle wastage.
The scientists administered a chemical to some mice, which the mice converted naturally to NAD+, resulting in rejuvenated muscle tissue. Their findings indicated that after one week of therapy, the two-year-old mice developed muscle tissue that was akin to the muscles of six-month old mice, though not in terms of increased strength.
Of course, the results of aging consist of far more than wastage of muscle tissue and in any case, there is no guarantee that these early experiments can be reproduced in humans. Furthermore, there is currently no indication of any negative consequences that might be associated with the treatment.
Search for Quality of Life
In spite of the interest in these alchemists’ dreams to produce great wealth or long life, there is little evidence that success would result in anything like the rewards that most people hope for.
For example, there is a general perception that fabulous wealth brings fabulous happiness. Whilst it is evident that poverty usually brings misery, people who have achieved great wealth don’t, in general, appear to be any happier that those who are comfortably well off.
Neither does long life that extends well beyond the normal lifespan bring increased happiness.
It seems that happiness, a sense of fulfilment and contentment come through other factors rather than wealth or long life on their own.
Amazing Truths from the Bible
The bible has wise council on both these issues. For example, in the oft-misquoted passage it tells us, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”. (1 Timothy 6:10)
To emphasise the point, we also read, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
So the choice is between being pierced with many griefs or contentment through trusting in a God who will never leave you nor forsake you. Which do you prefer?
The bible tells us about King Solomon. He had the rare privilege of being asked by God what he wanted in life.
The bible records that he didn’t ask for wealth or honour or victory over his enemies or long life. Instead he asked for “a discerning heart to govern the people and to distinguish between right and wrong”.
God’s response was to give Solomon what he asked for but also to give him the things he didn’t ask for, including wealth and long life, with the proviso that Solomon lived a godly life. Of course Solomon’s wisdom and wealth are legendary. It would seem that some people can be trusted to use wealth and long life wisely and for the benefit of all, which brings happiness and contentment. Others simply want these benefits to squander on themselves, with generally negative results.
You can read the full story in 1 Kings 3:5-14 or in 2 Chronicles 1:7-12.
True Path to Happiness
It seems strange that the things which make life worth living – like happiness, peace, contentment and fulfilment prove to be illusory when we pursue after them directly. Yet when we consider others before ourselves and when we endeavour to live lives that are pleasing to God, the things that make for a great life seem to materialise as a free bonus.
There are vital lessons in the bible for all of us that you can never learn from injecting mice with chemicals that boost muscle growth.