It has been said that “people who seek happiness for its own sake will not find it. It’s like trying to capture moonbeams in a jar. However, those who seek God will discover happiness as a serendipity” (Bruce L. Petersen). Augustine says, “You [God] made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Many seek happiness in what the world offers – wealth, pleasures, latest fads, acclaim of man, etc. Any pleasures that these may bring are but transient; leading to cravings for ever higher levels of pleasure, but never truly satisfying. On the other hand, the gift of God is peace and joy forevermore, even in times of sorrow and hardships. As the psalmist says, “You [the Lord] make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (16:11). Jesus Himself said He had come that we may have life, and have it abundantly, and our joy would be full (John 10:10b; 16:24). He also said that in this world there would be trouble, but take heart, as He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
The promised joyful life that Christians can have, begins with the joy of salvation, and the forgiveness of sins. Many of us would remember the joy we had when we first believed in Jesus Christ, and put our trust in Him. But alas! How soon we forget, myself included, bombarded by the distractions and values of this fallen and materialistic world, along with all the pressures and stresses of life. Thus, we live life no differently from the rest of the world!
Jeremiah Burroughs urges all Christians to search themselves to find what their deepest desires are. He said, “This will teach them that it is not the circumstances of their lives that make them unhappy but the state of their hearts.” At the root of unhappiness is often sin. But thank God that Jesus Christ has come to free us from our bondage to sin. He has also given us His Word and the Holy Spirit – divine instructions, guidance and power to live out His plan of life for us, with “fullness of joy” from here to eternity.
To be truly happy, we set our hearts, not on things of the earth, but on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. When He returns, we will appear with Him in glory (Col 3:1-4). In His presence, there is fullness of joy forevermore.
True happiness has to do with our hearts. It comes from within us, not outside of us. It is the deep inner satisfaction that Christians have, knowing what God has done for us. We love Him, and follow His plan and way of life. It is this inner satisfaction that enables us to have peace and joy, even in times of trials. This is because of the hope we have in Christ. As Burroughs says, Christian happiness is contentment, and it is “the opposite of a complaining spirit.” The Apostle Paul learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation, be it in plenty or in hunger, in abundance or in need (Phil 4:11).
The Christian life is also never meant to be lived alone. We need the community of believers to grow in this journey to joy forevermore. We need brothers and sisters in Christ to uphold us in prayer, in encouragement, and in sharing the Word of God on His plan of life for us. Jesus exemplifies for us through His small group of His first disciples, who went on to become disciple-makers, so that others may have this joyful life in Him.
May we search our hearts to find the cause of any discontent in our lives? Will we surrender it all to the Lord? What changes are needed in our lives and the way we think and process our emotions and our attitudes, and allow ourselves to be disciples in Christ, and in turn become disciple-makers? This will not only please God, but it will mean a blessed life of peace and joy, from within ourselves in Christ. May God be thus glorified through us! Amen!
By Sister Lee Yoke Kwang (YCKC Bulletin 25&26 August 2018)