So how many times have we said or heard, “I just want to be happy.”? It seems such a reasonable thought. A very sought after entity. The truth with happiness is that it is received often in bursts and spent equally as fast. To further complicate the concept of happiness, we often turn our feeling of being happy over to someone else, inherently giving up the right to be happy. We are depending on our friend, co-worker, boss, spouse or our family member to make us happy. When we do this it really shouldn’t be a surprise when we find ourselves always seeking after being happy, yet always finding it a fleeting experience.
I’m not saying happiness is not a worthy feeling or even a worthy pursuit but it is not the glue of life that we often desire it to be. It is after joy that we must seek. Joy is the strength underneath the pursuit of fuller life and it is by joy we are connected with hope. Joy is the pursuit that brings a larger harvest of fruit in our lives. A pursuit that brings strength to discouragement and longevity to the moments of happiness.
So what is joy if it is not simply a synonym for happiness? Joy is a gladness, unlike happiness, that is not dependent upon outward circumstances. It is fostered from a greater understanding of who you are, and where you truly belong in this reality of life. Joy is a foundation upon which we build and true joy has a source, a location. It is found in Jesus.
As the Psalmist writes, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). Notice what John says about knowing Jesus, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:1-4)
For all of our pursuit of happiness, might it actually be keeping us from the very thing we pursue? We push a relationship with God, with Jesus the Christ further into the background or having eliminated it altogether, in constant pursuit of the next happiness generator only to find it short lived and unto the next shiny object. The new car gives away its’ happiness until the next new car lures our eye with its promise of the same.
Maybe it is time to consider giving up the hamster wheel of always running to the next happy shiny thing and start learning about who we truly are in and through the God of our creation. That we might pursue a joy that stems in knowing who we truly are and what God has in purpose and design. Finding joy that leads to happiness that is not fleeting but ever present as walk this life.