I bet you’ve heard that old song, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” I’m sure you know the rest….so are you? Is your new year’s resolution to be happy? How about just wanting to enjoy every moment? EVERY moment…really? Or do you want to be better? What does that even mean by the way? To “be better”….better than what?
I looked up “happy” in my handy-dandy bible app and found that (depending on the version you like), being happy is mentioned between 20-45 times in the Old and New Testaments. If you are apt to take verses out of context, you could argue that God wants you to be happy. Well, you’re partially correct. The ways in which we can be happy are:
* When we are saved from our enemies
* When we speak with wisdom
* When we experience the goodness of God
* When we receive correction from the Lord
* When we do not follow the path of wicked men
* When we take refuge in the Lord
* When we remember that God chose us for His own
* When we care for the poor & show kindness to our neighbor
* When we find our strength in the Lord
* When we delight in the Lord and praise Him continually
* When we walk in the presence of the Lord
* When we seek the Lord with all our heart, mind, body, and soul
* When we wait patiently for the Lord
Best thing that I see in all of these references ~ it’s NOT about ME! It’s ALL about HIM! Is this as much a relief to you as it is to me? I cannot be happy on my own. I will never be able to be happy simply because I choose to be and live in such a way to make that happen. That is not the reality in which God has laid out for us. When we put ourselves aside, follow the Lord’s leading, and walk in the direction He has chosen for us, praising Him no matter what comes along that path, THEN we will be happy. THEN we will have happiness that comes from a place that is beyond our control.
But really…..is it happiness that you want and are striving for? I think the underlying emotions that we are searching for so much in our lives is that of contentment and peace. Now, hang on to your hat….contentment and peace are absolutely intertwined with being happy. However, BOTH come from resting in the Lord and trusting Him with all your frustrations, messes, irritations, sadness, and in your joyful times too. In all of it!
There are over 300 verses that talk about peace, and again, there is absolutely nothing you can do to gain peace for yourself on your own terms. Same goes for the 7 verses that speak on having contentment.
One of the most difficult times in my married life is when my husband and I (along with two other amazing couples from our church) felt called by God to start up a faith-based children’s animation company. All six of us, with greatly differing personalities, were all on board for the entire time we had our company; that this is what God had called us to. Had we not all had the unique commitment to find our contentment, peace, and happiness in the Lord, I don’t even want to think about where we would all be today. Little did we know that God was going to ask our three families to truly live out the verses that Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13, “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.“
Before we started our company, my husband had a very successful career with a major animation studio ~ pulling in a generous 6 figure yearly salary + bonuses. And we left it because God asked us to. Not quickly, but we did jump off the proverbial cliff of faith God called us to.
The lowest financial point when we had our company, was when we had about $80.00 total (like, yeah, eighty dollars….that’s it) for the month. And then we were invaded by ants. I seriously, VERY seriously, HATE ants! Long story short, although my sweet husband was angry that he would have to use his $5 allowance for lunches (think Costco $1.50 hot dog special!) to buy me a can of ant-killer spray, he did it anyway. That day, at a VONS in town, my man walked out of there somehow only paying .05 for a huge can of Raid. Yep…no misprint there…FIVE CENTS! We went back to the that location several times looking for the checker that helped him find the right store promotion and use our rewards card to get this deal, and never found her again. Angels are real people ~ we met one and she helped us kill the ants!
Relating this very small part of our story, brings tears my eyes even now as I remember the hardship we experienced. But the tears are not because I’m sad. The tears are not because I am disappointed that God apparently didn’t mean for our company to last. The tears are for the joys within the trials that we learned….individually and together as a family. I honestly wouldn’t trade what we went through because it made my faith in the Lord stronger. It made me know beyond a shadow of doubt, that God fully and completely cares for me and what happens to me. It taught my daughters to know that God is always there because He loves us and wants the best for us. We learned to live out in practical ways, “for my good and God’s glory.” He cares more about my relationship with Him, than in what my bank account says! 🙂
God’s peace passes way beyond our understanding! Our minds are incredibly finite when it comes to such things. I want to encourage you to look up scriptures on peace, and read them over and over again. Ask the Lord to wash over your heart, mind, and soul with the words of His promises. His peace comes to those whose trust is in Him; to those who believe in His words; to those who reside within the borders of obedience to Him; who are faithful to follow Him. Then peace, no matter the circumstance you find yourself in, will envelop you like nothing else. It doesn’t mean you are skipping down the street throwing confetti & glitter in the air. It means that your happiness finds itself generated in the overwhelming knowledge that God calls you His own and loves you more than you know.
Oh, and God has a sense of humor! I have a TV channel playing a contemporary Christian pop music station. A song called, “Happy” came on and I found it on youtube, so of course, I’m adding in the link to this blog. My favorite verse is this one:
“No, I cannot count the ways
You have made my life so blessed
All I know is that You came
And made beauty of my mess”
Isn’t that beautiful! I love music that reminds me of the greatness of my God and how very much He cares about me. And no wonder ~ God is the creator of music! Part of the reason is written in Zephaniah 3:17 because He had something special planning for music and it involves YOU! It says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Just one more way that He wanted to connect with us on a spiritual level.
The days I want to simply stand in church and NOT sing, are the days I know that I MUST sing. I can feel the groaning of the Holy Spirit calling out to me to lift my voice in praise ~ to unveil my mind from the prison of hurt, anger, or pride, and humble myself before the Lord. There’s nothing that snaps me out of a bad mood faster than trusting my heart to a time of worship to the Lord. The musical chords and words of the song, literally wash over my heart and shine the light of the Jesus on me! Whew! If you have ever had this kind of experience, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t ~ my friend, get to your nearest radio and find a station that plays great praise music. I’ll listen to just about all of it, but anything from Hillsong or Bethel Music will absolutely and positively minister to you!!
So I don’t want you to be happy ~ not in the way the world calls out to our sinful nature to be happy.
I want you to be happy because you have found peace and contentment in the Lord. Because you have found delight in honoring the Lord and in obeying the call He has on your life. Because you have chosen to put yourself aside and step out in faith as the Lord directs.
Then, you will be truly happy!