"I Just Want to Be Happy"
How many times have you heard that? Or said it?
“I’d be happy if I could lose another 10 pounds but I hate starving all the time!” “I love the people I work with but I’m so unhappy with my job.” “I can’t stand this apartment any more; I want a house!” “I’ll never be happy here. Don’t you see how people look at me?” “I don’t get squat from attending my church but I’m not going through ripping my wife away from her Bible study friends. I just want her to be happy!”
It’s like happiness is something we make a trade for. “I’ll give up ________ (fill in the blank) in return for 'being happy.'" But it never seems to work out, does it?
Three things make us unhappy:
- Not getting something we want
- Not getting to do what we want to do
- Not having people think what we want them to think
Anxiety comes from unmet expectations, and all three of these start with expectations…of ourselves, of other people or of God. And we humans create a never-ending stream of expectations.
Even when we get what we think we want, we’re not happy for long. Or down deep. No sooner do we get the thing we want than we want something else. The thing we want might make us happy for a little while, but stuff changes, something new appears and happiness fades. And getting people’s approval is never certain and is as fickle as a housefly. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Happy” means “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” It comes from the same root word as “haphazard." It connotes random. Spurious. Here and there. Unpredictable.
But the word “joy," which comes from the word “rejoice,” means “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.” Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” and “rejoice” appear over 300 times.
For me, “joy” rides on two things--love and hope. It first came when I grasped that I was loved--like really loved--by my Heavenly Father. And it hasn’t left since. I have an irrevocable hope because I know I am loved. That I will always be loved. Personally. By the God of the universe. He knows my name! And He loves me. Individually. Amazing, huh?
The only sure cure for anxiety is a grateful heart. And for the Christ-follower who "gets it," gratitude is the "default setting" of the heart. Grasping how much God loves us, how He forgives us, how He’s always there for us--that’s the source of real joy. And this joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances. It’s available 24/7/365. Not haphazard. It’s there for every Christ-follower.
“The men whom I have seen succeed best in life have always been cheerful and hopeful men, who went about their business with a smile on their faces, and took the changes and chances of this mortal life like men, facing rough and smooth alike as it came.” ~ Charles Kingsley
Question: What keeps you from being cheerful and hopeful?