Read Acts 14:21-22
21 After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, 22 where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. (NLT)
Some people think we have a basic right to be happy. The American Constitution seems to go along with this. Happiness is a fundamental human right. But seeing happiness as a right is wrong!
Certainly, we would much rather be happy than unhappy. We don’t long for unhappiness. We don’t run terrified from the prospect of happiness. When we come to the end of our lives, we would hope there has been more happiness than unhappiness.
Yet, as Paul says in this passage, life for a follower of Jesus involves hardship, pain, suffering. Not always, and perhaps not excessively for most of us. But it isn’t one long experience of happiness. Given that happiness is an emotional reaction to favourable circumstances, it stands to reason we can’t always be happy. It is a sign of a disturbed psyche if we are happy when tragedy strikes us or others. Life is too serious for us to be happy all the time.
Better to aim for joy, which unlike happiness, is not based on circumstances. It is glad confidence in the goodness of God. And since he is always good, we can always be joyful. Aim at happiness, and we tend to distort life by seeking to control circumstances or avoid situations. Making personal happiness our top priority can make us rather self-absorbed.
If we aim to be joyful, it frees us to face any and every circumstance with confidence that God is present. Accept all the happiness that life sends our way. Determine to be joyful no matter what life sends our way.
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