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“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”                (Proverbs 11:25)

“Now listen to what I said, in your life expect some trouble; When you worry you make it double.” These are just two lines from the lyrics of the well-known Bobby McFerrin song, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. It wasn’t only the song’s acapella style but also its content to which millions of listeners connected. It seems as if our current culture is hardwired to pursue happiness. We’re always looking for it, whether we realize it are or not. If it’s bigger, has more bells and whistles, or if it just feels good – we assume that it will bring us happiness . . . at least for a while. For many – ultimate happiness ends up being based on an accumulation of more stuff, greater wealth, and the freedom to do what we want when we want. Recent surveys on American Happiness conducted by the Harris Poll organization revealed that only one in three persons surveyed indicated that they were happy.  But interestingly enough, the majority of the respondents shared that their spiritual beliefs were a positive guiding force in their lives.

The United States Declaration of Independence states, we are provided by our Creator “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Therefore, happiness is frequently considered to be an entitlement. While Christians and non-Christians would no doubt agree that happiness should be a human goal, they should however disagree how this goal is best achieved. God loves nothing more than to make those of us who are chasing worldly happiness truly, deeply joyful. Throughout the Bible, He shows us the path to happiness and joy contained in the Holy Scriptures.  A perfect example is when the psalmist says to God with evident delight: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). We must consider that when personal happiness becomes our ‘be all, end all’ – it controls the governing principle in our individual lives rather than the Holy Spirit. The thought process in our decisions is no longer, “Is this right and pleasing to God?” but rather, “Will this make me happy?” Joy, instead, is not dependent on our circumstances. It is reflective of God’s Spirit who dwells within us.

Bestselling author Max Lucado provides a personal plan for a life filled with lasting and fulfilling joy, supported by Jesus’ teaching and modern research. In his book How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations, Lucado says that we actually find ourselves in our happiest moments when we are in the process of serving others. His thoughts parallel those of the Apostle Paul who said: “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Both Lucado and Paul would undoubtedly agree that the way to happiness is not through selfishness but selflessness . . . that we are at our best when we give it all away. A number of years ago, U.S. News and World Report explored the subject of happiness. According to the article, researchers have stated that “helping people be a little happier can jump-start a process that will lead to stronger relationships, renewed hope, and general upward spiraling of happiness.”

It’s tempting to use the promise of happiness as a reason why others should become Christians. Overemphasizing that happiness comes from following Christ can be disillusioning for any Christian when trials hit. Recognize that we don’t find happiness . . . we create it. The Lord’s desire is that we live in complete joy. Then when happy moments, happy relationships, and happy results come to an end – joy remains. During tough moments, painful stages – it’s not our strength but His power that lifts us up and carries us through. Happiness ends in time; joy lasts as long as God’s love. He promised: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11). We can choose joy when happiness isn’t possible . . . and we should not ever feel the need to chase after it.

REFLECTION: What are your happiest moments? Do they last? Are you still searching for the ‘lasting happiness’ stage of your life? What keeps you from accepting the eternal gift of joy that God offers?


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