Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness - this topic is kind of touchy for some of us. Is it good, or is it bad to pursue one's own happiness? As a Christian, is it okay if things or people other than Jesus make me happy? For those of you who don't yet know Jesus or His plan for you, does God want you to be happy... happy even if He isn't included in that happiness? These are thoughts that I have been wrestling with. It has taken quite a long time for me to actually put my thoughts on this subject into words. I have wrestled with it because I want everything I say to be straightforward and, above all else, to be true. But, alas, I think I am ready. Let's get started, shall we?

As a society, we have accepted and adopted the concept that we ought to always be happy. And, if we aren't happy? Well then, there must be something seriously wrong with us. So we constantly chase after the dream of happiness, and we pursue it (hence - the pursuit of happiness) at all cost. We believe having the popular brand of clothes will fill us, or being the "right size" will finally give us what we long to feel, or, better yet, we believe having a significant other will complete us. But when we finally obtain those objects, or reach the weight goal we set, or find "the one", we find we are still not happy all the time, or maybe even realize those things we tried so hard to obtain don't actually complete and fill us... Well... then what? We usually get confused or angry, and we ask God, "Why can't I be happy? Isn't it your job to make me happy?"

I came across this quote a couple weeks ago: "Jesus is in the happiness business." That is just full of crap! I'm sorry. But it is NOT God's job to make us happy. Plain and simple. Jesus did not die for us, so that we could be happy. Happiness is a fleeting feeling. One minute we may be happy as can be, and the next we become this awful grumpy monster that no one wants to be around. Feelings change, so why would God want something so mere and little as happiness for us? I believe, that instead of happiness, he desires for us to find perfect and deep JOY. Joy that touches our souls in HIM through times when everything seems hopeless and lost. 

"The bible teaches us that TRUE JOY is formed in the midst of the difficult seasons of life." 
 -Francis Chan

I love how Chan puts that, and I know it to be true! When we are stripped down to nothing, and are at our very lowest, I believe God is reaching down to us and asking, "So, are you ready to experience what it's like to be filled with beautiful joy?" With joy, you are given the ability to be content in hard places. Because even though you may not be happy, Jesus can enable you to be joyful and to worship Him -  for who He is and His promise to always provide and be with you. 

This is where it becomes a little confusing. This does not mean he doesn't want to see us happy. He just does not want us to chase after things that will only fill us for so long, only to then chase after another random thing that we think will complete us. 

"I do think our joy gives him joy, and our happiness makes him happy. Which is why he gives us passions and things we love to do and relationships and pretty sunsets. Because he does want us happy- but knows that hard times where we aren't happy are important for our growth too."
- Olivia Youngs

When I think of pure joy, I am almost always reminded of the people of Haiti. They have helped redefine joy for me. Joy is something that literally touches your very soul, it has the ability to spring up and out of you like an overflowing well. It is infectious! And to see "the very least of these," the impoverished, helpless, orphaned, BEAUTIFUL people who, to some, may look like they have nothing, have everything because they found Jesus. And because they have Jesus, they have a deep joy that flows through their entire being, so they really don't need anything else, because not only do they have joy, they have faith that God will provide.  Now, I would just like to clarify that not ALL Haitians know Jesus, that's why I go there. But a good majority do, and they are so deeply in love with Jesus, and their attitude towards life helps me learn something new every time I go down there. The difference between Haitians and Americans, is that Haitians are poor materialistically, but rich spiritually, which gives them that overwhelming joy, while we are rich in materials, but poor spiritually, leading us to become so extremely discontent in many situations.

If joy has the ability to get us through our lowest times, why in the world would we desire happiness, which will only tide us over for so long? Just think about that.

How about instead of chasing after empty things, which will only make us happy for so long, let's chase after Jesus, who heals, restores, and gives us unspeakable and unending joy!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."James 1:2-3

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."1 Peter 1:8-9

No comments:

Post a Comment