Welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. My friend, may I ask you a question today? Does God want you to be happy? Does he want you to be unhappy? Or, for that matter, does God want neither for you? Perhaps God is bidding you and I to forget about happiness altogether?
My friend, lifes a story, welcome to This Passing Day.
Do you or I have the right to be happy? The Constitution of the United States guarantees that each of us, citizens of this great land, have the right to pursue happiness. Will that pursuit, however, result in a happy life? One of the misconceptions many have about life, Christians included, is that we all have the right to be happy. While I enjoy being happy and would prefer it over being sad, I’ve never felt that happiness was the reason God put me on this earth. He has stated in Scripture that if you follow Christ, you will be persecuted for Christ’s sake. He doesn’t say maybe, or there are times; he says you will be. Persecution and happiness are strange bedfellows, yet God has tied them together and given them to us as a gift. “Here, take this yoke of persecution, put it on, and be content.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this rationalization: “God wants me to be happy, so I divorced him or her, or I bought this toy that I didn’t need, or went on this trip I can’t afford.” God gives us choices we can embrace that will likely make us happy, but they aren’t always choices that are his will for how we choose to lead our lives. He calls us to contentment in our sorrow, pain or hurt, but he never promises an escape into choices that merely make us happy. When you come right down to it, life is a tragedy, not a happy time. Sin guarantees that and no amount of escaping will avoid it.
Here’s the thing; happiness in this world, when it comes, comes not in the place of sorrow but incidental to it. When you and I make it the object of our days, it leads us on an endless chase that has no end other than regret. We’re far more likely to find it if we allow it to find us while we are busy abiding in God’s will.
Here’s a thought from author Dennis Wholey. “Are most people happy? Dennis Wholey, author of Are You Happy? reports that according to expert opinion, perhaps only 20 percent of Americans are happy. Those experts would probably agree with the wry definition of happiness offered by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who said, “Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children and by children to adults.” (Our Daily Bread, October 11, 1994.)
Jesus tells his captors in Luke 22:53: “Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour––when darkness reigns.” Jesus was reconciled to the fact of sin. Sin reigns in the heart of man. You and I, all responsible Christians, need to be reconciled to this as well. Our lot here on earth has nothing to do at all with happiness. We may pursue it and God does not deny us this. Nevertheless, unless we come to the stark realization that what we find will never undo what we have become, steeped in sin, contentment will be fleeting. What we normally account as happiness on this earth is a facade covering the ugliness of what this world has become: home to billions of sinners in need of a Savior. Our lives, mine and yours, are truly tragic in that regard. However, when we serve others with our sorry lives, God unlocks the key to true happiness––serving others; and, frankly, we MAY live happily ever after.
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We pray. Thank you Lord for lifting us out of a life of sorrow with the promise of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Forgive us Father when we forget that life is not about us, but about others. Remind us daily Lord that your will for us is a life of service to others and not in pursuit of our own happiness. Life may be a tragedy because sin has so manifested itself in our lives, but we are encouraged Lord that contentment will find us if we fix our eyes on Christ and allow him to fill us with the joy of his goodness and grace. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Therefore my friend, Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. This Passing Day. (Matt 6:34)
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