It’s something we’re all looking for, but not a lot of us seem to be finding…
And I’m not talking about fleeting moments of pleasure, I’m talking about true happiness – a deep sense of contentment and joy.
Now the Bible has a lot to say about happiness and joy. It says . “Always be full of joy in the Lord! I say it again – rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Jesus, the night before he was arrested and crucified, prayed for us – and the first thing he prays for, before anything else, is that we may be filled with joy! (John 17:13). In fact, if you do a word search in the New Testament you will see that Jesus uses the word “joy” more times than He uses the word “sin”. It’s like he’s saying, “Hey guys – I didn’t just come to save you from sin – there is so much more than that – I came to give you life, and life to the full!!
And so how do we take hold of that “full life?” Well, there are 3 things I think we need to understand about the nature of happiness…
1) Happiness is a choice
True happiness is a decision we make, not a feeling we chase. As John Keyhoe writes, “Happiness is a practice not a pursuit.” It rises above our everyday circumstances. It’s an intentional decision we must make everyday – to give ourselves permission to laugh and have fun.
Jesus was such a good example of this – he was so full of joy that he was often accused as being a drunkard! Now some of you reading this are thinking, “I could never be accused of that!” and you think that that is a good thing!
2) Happiness is a byproduct
“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.” – Aldous Huxley. The crazy thing about happiness is that if we make it the goal, we’ll never quite catch it. In fact, the harder we seek it, the more illusive it becomes. But, if we are willing to let go of it, it generally finds its way to us.
It’s the paradox of faith that Jesus refers to, “If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms!” (Luke 17:33). And so instead of seeking joy only for yourself, look around and find ways to bring joy to others…
3) Happiness is not of this world
So often we look for happiness in the wrong places. We look externally. Work, sex, relationships, stuff, holidays, travel etc etc. And while all these things are good and bring pleasure in the short term, ultimately they can never fully satisfy. And so we live from weekend to weekend, or relationship to relationship.
I believe true happiness comes from God. The one who created us and knows the desires of our hearts. As CS Lewis writes, “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
And so, still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Stop searching, turn to God, and it might just find you!
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