Summary: Happiness is an illusive quality, unless our search is based on what Christ offers us on his cross.
THE SEVEN SERVICE
JUNE 16, 2002
John 10:10 “How Can I Be Happy?”
We were just recovering from the shock of Black Friday, at the same time we were deep in the “Me” syndrome of the late twentieth century. What do you do when you are self absorbed, but also surprised by the unpredictability of life? Bobby McFerrin gave us the answer in a little tune entitled, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy?” Suddenly, everyone was humming, whistling, or singing this tune. If it were only that easy.
Most of us struggle to find deep joy and happiness in our lives. We read books, attend seminars and watch television programs on the subject. Some of us settle for cheap substitutes, thinking that happiness is the result of stimulated senses. Others believe that happiness is the fate of only a destined few. A small minority appears to have found it. Many never cease their search and persist until they find it.
Once we discover happiness, though, we realize how ridiculous our search actually was. It is a little like looking for you reading glasses, only to discover that they were pushed up on your forehead all the time. Happiness is right in front of us.
HAPPINESS IS NOT
When we talk about happiness it might be helpful for us to identify what happiness is not.
For example, happiness is not synonymous with comfort. When we seek happiness, we seek more than freedom from stress, unmet desires, or needs. We must confess, though, that we are sorely tempted to pursue happiness through these means. It is a common belief that if we have only 20% income, then we will be happy. We seek the right perk, or possession that will give us the happiness that we crave. It doesn’t work. It never works.
Happiness does not from outside of us. Things or events do not bring happiness into our lives. True happiness is a durable element in our lives that is not dependent on the weather, our income, our position, the people around us, or anything else.
Contrary to the belief of some people, happiness is not the property of a blessed few, but unattainable by the masses. Everyone can be happy.
HAPPINESS TRANSCENDS CIRCUMSTANCES
Sometimes we are caught off guard by happiness. We see it in people who we do not believe have any reason to be happy.
May visitors to Central America, who have traveled to that part of the world to view first hand the work of the Church, are amazed by the happiness of the people and the generosity that they encounter. These people are deep in poverty. They suffer and encounter sickness and death every day of their lives. Yet, they are happy.
Helen Keller, a deaf, mute and blind woman, defined herself, in her adult years, as a happy person. He had a tortured childhood because of her disabilities, but she was transformed by the love of her teacher. Helen earned several degrees and became a spokesperson for the physically challenged. Helen discovered true happiness.
Ludwig von Beethoven wrote the hymn “Ode to Joy.” It is a song of vibrant celebration and the expression of true happiness. Beethoven wrote this hymn near the end of his life, when he was so deaf he could not hear what he was composing. Many would say that Beethoven’s struggles would keep him from happiness. Instead, Beethoven discovered happiness in the midst of his personal struggles.
HAPPINESS AND THE CHRISTIAN
John records Jesus saying, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly. Happiness is part of the abundant life that God gives God’s people.
Happiness comes from the forgiveness of sin. Paul quotes a Psalm in his letter to Romans. He writes, “Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Happy is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him. Forgiveness of sin, and the ability to stand before our God without shame or guilt is the foundation of happiness. Until this is a part of our lives, we will never be truly happy.
Happiness is given to us in the relationship with God. Certainly we do not earn this relationship. God gives it to us through the life, death and resurrection of God’s son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to accept God’s love and forgiveness and to walk in the reality of God’s love—to live in the relationship for which we were created. This relationship is another foundation of true happiness in our lives.
Happiness is having God present in our lives in the person of the Holy Spirit. The truth that God never forsakes us, that God is always guiding us and walking with us through all of the challenges of life, is a source of true happiness.