Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsWednesday 26 Aug 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile. It’s the opposite of sadness. Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment.
When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness. It’s talked about a lot with so many books and articles telling us how to be happy—to follow the pursuit of happiness. Some people talk about the ‘science of happiness’. Most of us probably don’t believe we need a formal definition of happiness; we know it when we feel it, and we often use the term to describe a range of positive emotions, including joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude.
I would say that the majority of people across the globe say that being happy is one of their most cherished goals in life—it does matter. I want to be happy and fulfilled, with a deep sense of contentment—not just for themselves, but for their children as well. No parents like to see their son or daughter deeply unhappy. Thousands of people around the world have been interviewed with the question, What do you want the most?
The answer by the vast majority was, I want to be happy—no surprise there. The strange thing is that many believe the accumulation of wealth or possessions will automatically make them happy. Not true. It doesn’t work that way. Many of the richest people are also the most unhappy and miserable. We think money will keep us in a happy mood for a long time. It may be a happy experience for a short time but not for the long term.
Happiness and Joy
Reminds me of the man who travelled in the same bus each day to work. He noticed another regular passenger who, at the end of the day, limped up to the bus and seemed to be in pain:
- I see you in the morning and you are not limping and at the end of each day, you get on the bus with a limp. What is wrong?
- The man replies, My shoes are too tight and by the end of the day I am in a lot of pain.
- To which the other passenger says, Then get some new shoes.
- And the man quickly replies, I don’t want to, because then I would not have that sweet feeling of relief when I take them off at the end of the day.
That’s not the type of happiness I’m talking about today.
So how do you live a happy life? Is it really possible? Or, is it some elusive dream? You may have heard the words ‘inner disposition’. It means that which makes me, me. But where did my thoughts and desires come from? The Christian faith says God created you in his own image with a desire to live a contented, fulfilled and joyous life. Happiness is different to joy. Happiness depends on what happens to you. Joy is something else that comes from knowing your Creator God and his Son Jesus Christ.
So many see God is not into happiness, but they think he is austere and serious—a killer of all joy. But not so. The Bible is full of of verses that speak of joy, rejoicing, and being happy. It was Leo Tolstoy who said, “Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them”. In the Christian faith, that is an important fact. Why? Because outward circumstances are never perfect. We may be searching for the perfect solution, but it will end up in disappointment.
Sharing Ourselves with Others
Our hands are full of things, and we spend so much time gathering things. St Augustine puts it so well: ”God wants to give us something, but he cannot because our hands are full—there is nowhere for Him to put it”. So it’s up to you and me. We must make a choice. Do I want to consider what it is God says makes a happy and contented life? Or do I prefer to ignore God and get on with my own life?
How amazing to hear the great apostle Paul say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Philippians 4:11 – NASB).
We can find happiness by sharing ourselves with others. God has designed us to be social people—to rub shoulders and learn about life from being with others. Keeping to yourself will also keep out the happiness factor. Many times the Bible says there is much joy in being with others, and worshipping God with people of the same values as yourself. We are cutting ourselves off from happiness when we isolate ourselves from others. Even a phone call to others can increase your happiness level.
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little.” (Philippians 4:11 – Living Bible)
Happiness has nothing to do with getting everything I want. History is filled with people getting everything they want, and being miserable. Happiness is strongly linked to becoming the person that God wants me to be. The Bible often speaks of the Christian life as ‘putting on’ a new person or putting on the ‘new self’. (Ephesians 4:22-24). God’s Word to us is very practical:
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 – NASB).
Today can be a good day as you commit yourself to God and ask him to lead you in what you plan to do, whatever it is.