Not Happy

I was told this week, that no one is happy and that I shouldn’t be either. I was told last week that it’s my responsibility to make everyone happy.

Funnily enough, I wasn’t ever trying to be happy, nor was I trying to make others happy. I’m just trying to follow the word of God, within which there is little discussion of happiness.

What the word of God does discuss is joy. We are to count it all as joy. When contemplating what “it all” is, I like this bit from Hamlet.

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
To take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?
To die: to sleep; no more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

Count it all joy (James 1:2). This does not mean life will be filled with happiness. In fact, James goes on to discuss many of life’s difficulties. Shakespeare, whose writings often touch on Christian life, (1) is also quite clear on the absence of happiness and the abundance of difficulties. Yet, as Christians, we have joy anyway.

Joy isn’t happiness. It’s bigger and deeper. Joy is knowing that God is in charge and in knowing, we are filled up with joy. Our hearts are cheerful, glad and at peace. Joy is knowing that even when we are beaten down by life we are still in the best place we could be. Joy is the when the entire body of the Ashley Down Orphanage sat down for breakfast knowing their cupboards were bare only to have fresh baked bread unexpectedly arrive at the last moment. I say unexpectedly because the neither the orphans nor the staff knew what was coming. They had joy because they knew God would do SOMETHING and they were terribly excited to see what it would be. Joy is when Missionary Esther Dorflinger had three hungry children, rent to pay and not a dime to her name, then she found a large sum of cash sitting on her table. Joy is when after years of fighting for her place, Gladys Aylward finally arrived at her heart’s calling in China.

Joy is not faking happiness nor is it simply a choice. Rather happiness is a cheap imitation of joy. Joy is the peace and contentment you get from doing what is right, from following your heart and from knowing God will work it out. Joy is the feeling of bliss we can have in focusing on Christ first and the radiance our heart pours out into our God-given purpose. Joy is jubilation.

Which is what I needed to hear today. I let the voices of those around me steal my joy, take my focus off Christ and worry and cry.

Now, again, I remember.

JOY means:
J esus first, before
O thers, before
Y ourself.

Even when things don’t work out, even when we are all assailed by the new, blatant, lack of caring in our culture. Count it all joy. Jesus first in thought and action and deed.



One comment

  1. Happiness is each individual’s responsibility. We have also granted THAT to the ‘state’. Now when we are ‘unhappy’ we expect others, (the State – etal), to fix it for us. When will this madness end?


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