What is happiness, exactly?
Have you ever noticed how much the culture talks about it?
It comes in subtle and not-so-subtle waves.
Self-esteem. “Me” time. Get the credit you deserve.
101 Ways to Be Happy. Top 7 Tips for Becoming the Best You.
Ever seen something like that?
One article reported that some big companies have even hired Chief Happiness Officers to help their employees find some joy in life.
Happiness is an obsession with us all. We all look to be satisfied, filled, purposeful, enriched. We look inside ourselves to find an answer–and when that inevitably fails, we search for something else to anchor us, something to bring meaning. Something, anything, to make us happy.
Superior knowledge, intellectual prowess, cutting wit. Entertainment, work, sports, hobbies. Music, art, books, media. Cosmetics, physical fitness, romance.
It all rings hollow.
Why else would Solomon say this:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
– Ecclesiastes 1:2, NIV –
And trust me, Solomon would know. He tried it all–women, money, power, wisdom, fame. He’d tasted what the world had–and it went stale in his mouth. Soggy and tasteless and worthless.
Some of us go back to being stuck on ourselves and thinking we’re the best thing since buttered popcorn. But how does the self-obsession pan out? Solomon says it all–meaningless, meaningless, meaningless.
So if I asked you where to find true happiness, what would you say?
Would you parrot “Jesus” like the five-year-old Sunday School kid who has that same answer to every question?
Or would you really mean it when you said that only God can satisfy?
More than meaning it, have you experienced it?
The theoretical fact that God fills doesn’t do you or me any good unless He fills us–personally, deeply, individually.
And this joy–here it is:
That we are worthless, yet valued as rubies.
That we are unlovable, yet loved beyond measure.
That our deeds would kill, yet the One who died did it for His murderers.
That these dry bones would live again.
That this love is contrary to all we deserve. That we can’t ever delight in our bigness.
That the heavens and earth tell a story….
And that story is NOT about us.
John Piper said this well:
“It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself.”
— John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life —
And that’s the good news.
It was never supposed to be about us anyway.
Which is why navel-gazing is so woefully unfulfilling.
So the solution? How to find joy in this life, right here?
Giving. Thanking, Dying to self, on this day. And tomorrow, And the next.
John Piper says that the joy is in the giving.
Ann Voskamp says the wild happiness is in the thanking–for the little, the big, the everything.
Laura Story says the blessing is in the storm.
Most importantly, my Jesus says the life is in the dying.
Isn’t this the hardest kind of dying, the kind that must be done every day, every breathing minute?
The kind that stretches out the hand even when its the last two pennies to your name?
The kind that keeps thanking God when you can’t for the life of you see the sun?
The dying that crucifies flesh and self, again and again.
“There is a warning. The path of God-exalting joy will cost you your life. Jesus said, “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” In other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. This is not a book about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life. Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy.”
— John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, emphasis mine —
So, here’s your ultimatum.
Are you willing to die?
Willing to risk, to give all, in order to find the true riches?
To “sell all” to gain the treasure?
To give today, every day, knowing that all the way it’s all Christ and none of you?
Because somehow, in His gracious way, even our faith-filled inability is promised reward.
That He can pour into a life and bring a child home, and then heap praise on victories won in His strength.
Can we ever give enough back to a God like this?
No, but we can try.
Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.
– John Barrymore –
Or, maybe through a door Someone Else opened?
How about being His hands, being His feet and being a helper of someone’s joy today?
(2 Corinthians 1:24)