We all want to do well. We all want a successful life. We all want to be content with who we are and with what we are doing. We want to be happy. It is a reasonable desire and one which we make a lot more complicated than it is. It is unfortunate that in our Western society we equate success with "things". We fill our lives with "stuff" that we think will bring us happiness and pleasure. This "stuff" can be possessions, toys, gadgets; or it could be finances, healthy bank accounts, money to do stuff with; or it could be relationships, people we lean on. This "stuff" might also be academic achievement, education degrees, or perhaps our profession, the thing we dedicate our life to doing. But happiness is not that difficult.
All this "stuff" that I listed above are temporary. They look solid but really they are here today and gone tomorrow. We don't have any control over them at all. We may work hard to gain them but in a blink of an eye they can be taken from us. Our expectations can be shattered in an instant. One wrong word, one thoughtless decision, one indiscretion; gone. One accident, one disaster, someone else's mistake; gone. Life happens and in a flash we can go from victor to victim. What of happiness then? But happiness is not that difficult.
What of your expectations? What happens to you if you fall short of your goals? What if you don't obtain the stuff that you think will provoke your happiness? What if your grades are not good enough to get into that specific university which would allow you to apply for that certain career? What if in not getting that career you had to be satisfied with a lesser salary which would not allow you to buy all that "stuff" that you believe brings happiness? What if your investments don't work out and you end up closer to poor than rich? What if you can't support that great life-style? What if your perfect relationship turns out to be a nightmare of abuse? What happens when your expectations are not met? Is your life an unhappy ending? But happiness is not that difficult.
Things that are not possessed of eternity will never bring us happiness because they do not touch the deeper place of our life. There is a hunger in us, a desire to be in relationship with the One who created us. We try to satisfy this longing with "stuff" but "stuff" cannot reach the deeper place. "Stuff" cannot satisfy the longing of our soul. Only Jesus can respond to the longing of our soul and only that relationship brings us eternal satisfaction. Once possessed, nothing can touch that relationship because Jesus will never fall away no matter what we go through. Happiness, or what we know as joy, is simple and it is found in a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ.
There is a Scripture that best describes the attitude of those who walk with Jesus, who find their satisfaction in him, who exude joy in all circumstances of life. This is their code:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
To those who are pursuing happiness in all the wrong places this sounds like a fine sentiment that they may put on a plaque on their wall. But to those whose entire purpose is found in Jesus, this is the reality they live every day and it comes from they joy that they live. It doesn't produce the joy because the joy comes from the relationship but it is found in the river of joy that flows from the relationship. People who make Jesus their everything trust nothing else but him. They do not trust their own thinking on matters but desire to live the truth of his Word. They do not segregate their relationship with Jesus from what they do in the world. Jesus becomes their reason for what they do; all action and decisions are provoked by this relationship. In living in this relationship Jesus directs their affairs, their decisions, their paths, their direction and everything is for his purpose.
Happiness is not that difficult. It is found in a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship causes the colours of this world to fade in comparison so that the false joy of the "stuff" is replaced by the genuine joy of eternity. We are an eternal creature living in a temporary circumstances longing for relationship with our eternal Creator; and when we have it we know the experience of real joy.