How many times have we said I will be happy when _____ happens? Maybe you aren't saying it but you sure do feel that way. My guess is that we don’t want to admit it but we have felt this way recently maybe this year or even this month. If you haven’t said or felt this way recently, I am sure at some point in your life you have, let me jog your memory. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
I will be happy when…
I get to high school and can drive
I have a boyfriend/girlfriend
I get to college and have more freedom
I get a job and can move out of my parent’s house
I have money to do what I want when I want
I get married and have a family
I get through this season of stress and worry
I get that promotion
My kids start sleeping through the night
The kids can start driving themselves places
My kids move out of my house
I can retire and enjoy my life
Based on the list above we can see that this isn’t just a juvenile way of thinking, everyone struggles with this, including me.
I spent a large part of my life concerned with doing the right things to set myself up for the right next steps. I thought if I did everything in the right order at the right time life would go smoothly and I would always be happy. So I followed the path others had laid in front of me but at each step, I kept feeling strongly that I would finally be happy when I made it to the next step but then in that next step I was just looking forward to the next step and so it went on and on and on. I would find some happiness in the “honeymoon stage” of my new adventure but then it was back to looking ahead and planning my next step to achieve happiness. At some point, I realized I was on a roller coaster seeking happiness filled with many ups and downs. Each step I took didn’t bring me closer to the ultimate goal of achieving happiness, it just made me lose focus on what really brought me joy. Although the goals I had were not bad, trying to find happiness in the process kept me from finding joy in being in communion with God, my family, and my Christian community. I had become so focused on my own happiness, I overlooked the joy that came from God.
When we don't let God be the focus of our happiness we get lost like a ship on the sea without a lighthouse. We are lost in a world that is based on all of what we own. I had found myself living in that world. In a world that says happiness comes from having the best car, live in the best city and of course wear the latest styles. That world creates an environment where we are allowing things to determine our happiness and not God. We set ourselves up for failure by putting conditions on our happiness. God warns us of this in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Being happy is not a bad thing but seeking that happiness in the things of this world only leads to disappointment.
When we follow the way of the world we put our happiness in front of the joy that God provides. We find ourselves seeking happiness in things of this world when true joy can only come from God. Although we might find the success that brings us happiness for the moment, we forget so easily that all of our worldly happiness will fade away.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
The great news is that God is already giving us all we need!
He provided for our physical comfort,
So the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. Jonah 4:6
In Him, we find a path and purpose that leads to joy,
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalms 16:11
We can be joyful even in trials,
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2-3
He promises to give us what we need,
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
He will protect us,
O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalms 34:8
He has it under control and will provide for us,
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
As we can see from the scriptures above God has given us all we need, joy included. The challenge for most of us is to open our eyes to His goodness and all he has provided for us. Once our eyes are open it is much easier to find joy in the small things God provides for us daily. Once we can see God’s goodness we should also get in the habit of thanking Him for those things.
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. Psalms 92:4
I believe that together we can help one another see God’s hand in the small things. First, we must let go of the world’s idea of what happiness is and then redefine for ourselves what God says about joy.
Ways we can find the joy that God has provided for us;
Start a gratitude journal filled with all the big and small things God provides
Incorporating praises into your daily prayer life
Volunteer with those less fortunate
Fast from social media
Do something that makes you happy even if it feels silly
Talk to a friend or family member about your struggles
Please share in the comments below any other ideas of how we can let go of the world's idea of happiness and redefine for ourselves what God says about joy.
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