Overcoming the Trials of a Lifetime

Finding Meaning and Joy in the midst of Afflictions, Illness, and Hardships

Happy Wives Happy Lives

People today have become convinced that their own personal happiness is the be all and end all. That it is the most important thing.

We live in a country that promises us an “inalienable right” to the “pursuit of happiness.” You know the problem starts with what the world promises. We think we have a guaranteed undeniable right to be happy. It’s right in the Declaration of Independence.

People are given the counsel like this – you can’t help other people until you find your own happiness. Then after you found your own happiness you can share it with others. Heard that before? Or how about this one – “the only important thing is how you feel about yourself.” That’s not the only important thing, is it?

According to modern dictionaries, “joy” is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. The world defines “happy” as the feeling experienced when one’s wishes are met. Interestingly, the world says that joy is happiness and they are synonyms.

The world’s understanding of happiness and joy is that you have it when you get what you want. When you get what you want, you’re happy, and if you’re not getting what you want, you’re unhappy. It’s like we’ve all grown up into these big adult bodies and we’re still just a bunch of little toddlers.

If you start off with that kind of definition, you’re going nowhere real fast. Based on the world’s definition, this is what people will sound like.

  • “I’ll be happy when I buy that new car.”
  • “I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.”
  • “I’ll be happy if we can have another child.”
  • “I’ll be happy if we never have any more children.”

This getting whatever you desire isn’t going to happen, so, if we are rational at all, we curb our expectations. My parents taught me about the defense mechanism: if you want something badly you won’t get it, and so you needed to lower expectations to avoid disappointment.

If the circumstances are the reason for you for getting joy, you’re going to lose. It isn’t going to happen. Joy isn’t going to happen if it’s based on circumstances. We Christians have the same set of circumstances as non-Christians do. Even if you get what you want, you could lose it the next day.  It’s easy to see the world is setting you up for frustration and disappointment. It’s promising your happiness based on your getting what you want.

These two views of joy and happiness are just messed up. These definitions apply to screaming toddlers who are not getting their way, not to people, saved or not, who have even an inkling of how to live in a world where you seldom get your way or where one can even lose the things and people held most dearly.

God’s kingdom is all about righteousness, peace, and joy and not about escaping earthy suffering or acquiring everything you want.

More to come in future posts