Hung Up on Happy

The words "happiness" and "joy" are often used synonymously, but in fact, they are very different.  You see, our happiness is dependent on our happenings.  The circumstances in our lives determine whether or not we are happy.  When the car breaks down, we're not happy.  When the boss takes his frustration out on us, we're not happy.  When the week's paycheck is spent before it's even been deposited in the bank, we're not happy.  Negative events can put us in a very negative mood, stealing our happiness from us.

Joy, on the other hand, is from the Lord and is constant.  It does not depend on life's circumstances.  The ups and downs of life do not affect it.  It is the mysterious element that causes us to smile through our tears and laugh in the midst of our pain.  It is the strength of the Lord made manifest in our lives.  It is the key factor that keeps us from giving up when all seems hopeless.

Do you want to know the problem most of us have today?  We're hung up on happy.  We're not satisfied with being joyful, we think we should be happy too.  Now, don't get me wrong.  God does want us to be happy, but more than that God wants us to grow spiritually.  He wants us to learn.  He wants us to follow His will and trust in His leading.  And sometimes, that just rubs the wrong way against our happiness.  Think about the following statements:

I know I shouldn't spend money on things I can't afford, but these things will make me happy.

I know I shouldn't eat that entire chocolate cake, but chocolate makes me feel better.

I know I should read my Bible instead of this magazine, but I just need some time to relax and to do something I enjoy.

I know God's way is best, but I would feel better if I did it this way.

Sound familiar?  Who are we to think that our happiness should be placed above the will of God?  When God brought this to my attention the other day, I was embarrassed and ashamed.  I had turned happiness into an idol in my life, and I wasn't satisfied unless I was pleasing my "happy".  In essence, I was telling God, "Yes, I know Your joy is my strength to make it through this trial, but right now, it's just not enough.  I want to be happy too.  And I'm going to pout and complain until I get my way."  It sickens me that I can be so stubborn and rebellious.

I know one thing.  I can live without happiness, but I can't live without joy.  I need joy!  It is my strength.  It is the thing that keeps me going.  And by God's grace, I'll stop taking it for granted.  I've made the decision to tear down my idol of happiness.  I wish to serve it no longer.  Instead, I want to put all of my time, effort and strength into serving the One, True God. . .the only One worthy!

I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. - Psalm 16:8-9

*****Excerpt from Lilting Laments of a Looney Lass by Dana Rongione*****