Happiness; a word that holds so much meaning, yet people spend their entire life endlessly searching for anything that will fill them with that warm fuzzy feeling. At times, happiness can be found, but always temporarily, waxing and waning like the moon, never to stay in one place for long. How can one find true everlasting happiness?
The world tells us it’s easy. Focus on yourself and make choices that will give you the most pleasure. A common saying among people my age is “Do You”. The meaning behind these two little words is as simple as it sounds: live for yourself and make yourself happy. Buy that expensive car or spend your paycheck on a new spring wardrobe, because you only live once, so live it up in the moment. Do whatever it takes to excel in your job so you can make as much money as possible. Find your soul mate and fall in love, because once you find true love then you’ll finally be happy. The world tells us possessions, money, and people are what bring us happiness, but what happens when the possessions lose their thrill, money gets tight, and your loved one isn’t quite so easy to love anymore? Will you still be happy?
Finding unending happiness actually isn’t possible in my humble opinion, but finding true joy is. Paul, a disciple of Jesus, shares these words in the Bible that have brought so much encouragement and clarity to me in many circumstances over the years. He states, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” –Philippians 4:11-13.
What was Paul’s source of contentment? The answer is Jesus. Knowing that Jesus gives eternal life through him, freedom from the burden of sin, and a source of strength through the troubling times is what we can put our hope in. Paul knows that whatever his circumstances are, God is there, therefore there is reason to be thankful and content in the Lord. This gives true joy, not happiness, but a joy that is unexplainable and unchanging, because we know that God’s promises are trustworthy and we can put our hope in Him through any challenge we face.
Lately, I have been struggling with very odd symptoms that have made living life normally feel like a monumental task some days. I’ve been to the doctor, and the tests taken have not revealed anything wrong. As silly as it might sound, I wish that something wrong HAD been found, because it would give me the answers I’m searching for and a direction to go in helping heal whatever is causing the symptoms and pain. It has effected many aspects of my life, creating a difficult challenge to push through each day. Through it all, it has been hard to be “happy” some days, yet on multiple occasions I’ve been humbled to the point of tears knowing that Jesus is ENOUGH and I can still find joy in these day to day struggles. I know that God ultimately has the victory over anything going on in my body and for that I am thankful and can give all my praise to Jesus.
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It would be so easy for me to be angry and unhappy in this difficult phase of my life. At times, the frustration is overwhelming when I’m not able to find anything to give me relief, yet my relationship with God hasn’t suffered. In fact, I feel closer to Him than ever before, which fills my heart with this overwhelming sense of warmth that I can best describe as JOY. When I spend time in worship with God, I feel content and free from life’s hardships that desperately try to weigh me down. I can relate with Paul when he says he has learned the secret to being content in any and every situation. Right now, my situation is frustrating, painful, difficult, exhausting, and scary, yet I feel ALIVE in Him and full of an unexplainable joy that I so desperately want each and every person to feel and experience. It doesn’t make sense, which makes it that much better. This joy is mentioned throughout different books of the Bible.
“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
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:2-3
“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
No matter what you are feeling, fix your eyes on Jesus and He will fill you with an unexplainable joy that no circumstance on Earth can diminish.
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