What makes you happy? When you feel happy, how long does this feeling last? Maybe you receive an unexpected gift, saw a really cool sunrise, or you really enjoyed that mid-morning coffee break, which gave you a feel-good boost. Each day we likely experience a roller coaster of emotions ranging from anticipation, happiness, satisfaction, discouragement, frustration, anger, anxiety, and others to varying degrees of intensity and duration. Most of these are temporary depending on our experiences and circumstances from one minute to the next. What brings you joy? Some may describe joy as intense happiness, but I would argue it is more of an attitude of the heart (such as love, hope, and sorrow) than it is a feeling. Can you still have joy inside you as you go through a multitude of experiences and emotions in any given season of life?
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
What do you way when someone asks ‘How are you doing?’ As Christians, should we expect to be happy all the time? Should we even give the outward appearance that we are happy, when we are not, or should we be open an honest with how we feel? It probably depends on the context. Sometimes we need to get work done, so we ‘suck it up’ and move forward even if we don’t feel like it. Is our end goal in life, as much of the secular world seeks – to be happy? Just look around you a little and you can see others (or yourself) seeking happiness and pleasure in money/things, relationships, status, food, lust, etc, but these things alone are only temporary fixes until something bigger or better can be found. Is that what you want, or is there something better? Some try to justify sin (stealing, leaving a spouse, pornography, overindulgence, etc) by saying ‘doesn’t God want me to be happy?’ When your happiness comes at the expense of others and in the end brings you more pain and difficulty than you anticipated, you find out that what makes you happy is not always what is best for you.
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
I experience as much happiness from finding a close parking spot, as much as I do from getting a work assignment done. It happens on and off throughout the day and is fairly fleeting and superficial as any ‘happy’ feelings wear off quickly, and it doesn’t change me much at my core sense of being. The other day a friend asked me what my favorite fruit of the spirit was, and I said I liked them all, as they were all closely connected. When we try to love well, the other fruit naturally appears, and vice versa.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
I heard an interesting comparison once that for the Christian, Joy is central and pain is peripheral, as the major questions of ‘who am I’ and ‘why am I here’ have been answered. For the non-Christian, Pain is central in life and joy is peripheral, as those central questions of meaning have not been answered and there is a constant struggle to cover or hide those feelings. When we have come to understand salvation and surrender our lives to Christ, an unmistakable joy begins to flood in at the core of our being. This is not deterred by the trials, challenges, and changing emotions we experience in life, but helps us overcome these difficulties to the point of death and beyond. So, as you seek the little things that bring you some happiness each day, be reminded of the one thing that sustains your joy for living. Rejoice in Him!
Blessings in Christ,