Somewhere along the way in this journey of faith, someone got the impression that this life was easy. Personally, I blame the rise in the power of the media. News stories right and left about the “good” life that all of these celebrities lead, and tragedy and heartbreak for all of us “normal” people. Throw in the power of Social Media and the highlight reel of our lives and you’re bound to give the world the impression that everything is always sunshine and rainbows.
Take the tragedy in Oregon that just took place. Christians were intentionally targeted by this gunman. Purposefully asked if they were Christians before being shot in the head for responding yes. I can’t help but think about the first Christian who said, “yes.” He (or she) probably had no idea what that simple yes would return. But more than the first person, I think about the subsequent persons who said yes. They had already seen one person shot for admitting to following Christ and being a Christian.
Now, they had to choose.
We are faced with choices every single day…the option to say yes to reading our Bible before checking our Facebook. The option to tune in to the Christian radio station rather than the secular station. The option to pay it forward in the Starbucks line or just get our own stuff and move on.
I heard Joel Osteen’s wife make the statement one day that “what really make God happy is you being happy” (or something to that effect…you can view that clip here). And my jaw hit the floor.
This is where people get the idea that Jesus is going to make all of their problems go away with the snap of a finger. That as soon as they say, “Oh hey…sure I believe in Jesus” then all of their issues, troubles, and burdens will just magically disappear.
I’m not sure what Bible Mr. & Mrs. Osteen read from, but I can assure you it’s not the one that any other church reads or teaches from. It doesn’t take but just a few chapters into the good book to see that God has no intention of making us happy.
Giving us abundant life? Absolutely.
But happiness? There’s no verse anywhere that I’ve read that states that happiness on THIS Earth is a guarantee.
Unfortunately, the word used to joy in the Bible is the same word that we use for happiness…which is therein causing the problem.
I’m convinced that our world is more sin-fallen than it was at the time that the scriptures were written. I know there are stories and accounts of sin-laden cultures throughout the Word of God, but I can’t find it in myself to believe that things were any worse then than they are now. And with that sin has come a sense of entitlement.
(I’m sorry. That made you a little uncomfortable didn’t it?) Start at the beginning of scripture. I’m pretty sure Adam & Eve weren’t happy when they were cast out of the Garden of Eden for screwing up; nor were they happy when their son murdered his brother. I’m willing to bet that the people left to be swept away by the floodwaters during Noah’s day weren’t all that happy. Ever read the book of Job? Cause that book is just overflowing with happiness (hence the sarcasm there).
You weren’t created to be HAPPY.
You were created to be HOLY and Christ like.
The difference between worldly happiness and divine joy is this: one is of man and one is of the perfect God.
Our sin nature leads us to think that our pornography addiction or our drugs or our alcohol or our addictions to shopping or gambling are going to make us happy. But, think about the fall out that those sins have. Do they bring a temporary high? Sure they do. Along with a temporary happiness. But are the repercussions of those things worth the temporary high?
No. Because happiness is temporary. Joy is eternal.
Just like our salvation is eternal.
God doesn’t worry about our happiness because his focus is on our “after” and He knows full well the joy that will come far surpasses the high of the “right now happiness.”
Christianity isn’t a journey of happiness. And I’m pretty sure that 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t bring about the expected results in our lives. Most of us say yes to Christ because “happiness” isn’t working for us anymore. I spent too many years being “happy” on the weeknights with my bottle of vodka and the bachelor of the week. It wasn’t until I heard the simple whisper from Christ that I realized that I didn’t want happiness. I wanted joy.
You’re seeking your happiness in all of the wrong places. Put that stuff aside and look to the only one who can bring you joy everlasting.
Let’s let go of the assumption that we are called to be happy. Because happiness is a figment of our limited, sinful nature and mentality. You can be happy all day long…chasing after one more person or one more thing to fill the void only Christ was meant to fill…but you’ll never find eternal rest and peace and joy in anyone but Christ.
It’s time to start living for something much deeper than the temporary.
Lord, I know that my head is tied to the temporary here on this Earth. I find myself placing my hope and my happiness in the fleeting; seeking to find fulfillment in (insert the thing that you turn to for your happiness…whether it’s a person, habit or thing) rather than in you. Heavenly father, my prayer is that you would remove this stronghold of happiness leading me away from what is fleeting and into the arms of the eternal joy that is only found in you. Thank you for the sacrifice made for me so that I would no longer have to chase happiness, only rest in joy through Jesus Christ. In Christ Jesus Name I pray, Amen.