I entreat you for a respite from our usual Christian talk about how joy and happiness are different things.
Joy is possible in any circumstance, generated by intimacy with God and hope of heaven, not our earthly trappings. I fully embrace that as a central and crucial tenet of our faith. I even embrace the idea, without flinching, that God will withhold happiness if it makes us holier. That is well and truly believed on this blog.
But since I also believe that God does not exactly hate our happiness, let me share a verse from a poem that I ran across yesterday…
I asked God to give me happiness,
And God said, “No”,
He said, “I give blessings,
Happiness is up to you.”
– author unknown
Yes, I know…I took this from a larger poem containing a few other ideas that some might differ on. That’s why I only reproduced this paragraph, because…wow.
How many blessings have we received and not made the most of?
Now, I hate that the previous sentence (and others like it) tend to come across so watery, wispy, and commonplace. Sometimes a little jolt is needed to really make a thought come alive. So let me offer a question I once read, one that truly exploded my contentment and easily counts as one of the top five most mind-blowing things I’ve ever absorbed:
What if God were to announce tomorrow that he would remove from your life everything for which you failed to thank him today?
I’m guessing…we’d be on our knees. Thanking him. Praising him. Noticing stuff.
Why does human nature dictate that we only appreciate things when they are, or might be, gone?
When we look at someone else and wish for what they have, how many people are looking in our direction and wishing the same?
If we can’t find happiness with what we have, what’s the point of asking God for more?
Most importantly, what are we doing with these blessings? Even if our own happiness seems elusive, there is a great deal of happiness we could be bringing others.
I have good health. Like, very good. High metabolism and no need for a doctor’s visit for years. I have the build and stamina for a competitive runner. And yet, only now in my mid-thirties have I bought a treadmill (winter-proof!) and started training for my first marathon. I’ve actually felt a burden the last couple years over my failure to put this thing to real use.
So I recently decided that once I achieve my goal of thru-hiking the Continental Divide Trail someday, I’ll find a way to raise charity money doing it. Seems like a good way to help those who are not as blessed. I sure haven’t been given this body for nothing. The seed I’ve received I will sow, if I can, for the world is dark and hungry.
Let’s take a day off asking for more; get excited about what we have. Instead, ask God for the creativity to retask your blessings to the good of others. Our faith is supposed to be attractive and radiant, a boon. And you do find happiness in being a light to others. Ask anyone who’s ever served.
Maybe God isn’t withholding quite as much happiness as we thought. Maybe we’re just bad at it.
What are you suddenly thankful for?