May 15, 2018
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b, NIV 1984).
Ramazan was sitting on a sea side chair when I returned from my early morning jog on the beach at Durres, Albania. I had offered to wait for him, but he had been up late the night before and missed our appointment. I asked him if he would still like to run a couple of miles and we did so slowly. The run gave me the chance to ask him, “Are you any closer to following Christ?” He said he was not quite there. As we were walking into the hotel I asked him, “If you could have one thing in life, what would that be?” He answered, “I guess it would be happiness.” “What does happiness mean to you?” “You know, more good things happen to me than bad.” “Do you know what joy is?” I asked.
Some of life is unhappy for all people; most of life is unhappy for some.
Ramazan was right; happiness is a state where more good things happen to you than bad. Happiness is dependent on circumstances that may be wildly favorable at times, like the day my son hit his homerun to win the championship game, and the coming-home evenings when my infant daughters placed their hands around my neck, and the day I received my medical degree, and the day my Becky said, “Yes.”
And there are terrible times in our lives where happiness would be absurd.
Happiness will fluctuate like a rollercoaster with the rise and fall of events in our lives.
Joy is the settled understanding that life is good and that it is good I am here. Joy can remain in our lives, whatever our circumstances, only if we have a source of joy that overrides all our circumstances and does not change with the tides of life.
Peter wrote to those who were suffering greatly, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him...and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9, NIV 1984).
Joy can only last if it is grounded on that which is greater than our ever-changing circumstances. Jesus is greater than our circumstances.
And if you need suggestions for actions that can bring joy to your life:
- Spend time with the Christ who gives you joy.
- Choose one thing you can remove from your schedule, responsibilities or ownership; simplify.
- Choose one act of service for someone who cannot reward you.
- Choose one event to share with one you love.
- Do this all in Christ and with Christ.
Thank you that I can set my sights and my heart on Jesus when the circumstances of life destroy my happiness.