“Happiness is Up to You”

celebrate2I 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?

40 thoughts on ““Happiness is Up to You”

  1. Amen! A real key to happiness is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful for breathing, if that’s all you got. Start the day counting your blessings. Smell the roses. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

    I really believe God wants us joyful but also happy. I sometimes joke about how 90% of our misery is usually self inflicted. I like the idea of Paul singing praises in prison,a pretty miserable situation, and yet there is some joy there, he’s having a grand adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was only saying this morning in our ladies study group how I think happiness is one of modern society’s greatest idols, (although I wouldn’t be picking misery for myself or anyone else). It’s when we are faced with suffering, pain and loss and the lack of happiness when we question God’s goodness and yet it’s those things that draw us closest to Him and enable us to be more grateful. Such a pity we’re slow to learn isn’t it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happiness is an idol, yet I still think God cares about our happiness. He just cares more about our holiness, and the two come into tension. And there is the example of Jesus, who was probably amongst the least happiest people ever to walk the earth – purposefully, so he could know our sorrows and comfort us in them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this. So true… I was just thinking and praying about this very concept on a long, long drive. Being a parent really sheds light on my own sin nature in so many ways. As I was thinking about our kids and how they can often treat us like vending machines, I was terribly convicted that I do the same thing to my Father. He’s already given me so much: salvation, for starter; but also the ability to see, to see all colors, abundant food, food with flavor, hearing, clothing… too much to even list! And yet, much like my own teens, I have the propensity to focus on the one thing I do not have rather than the innumerable gifts He has already provided. Lord, forgive our lack of gratitude!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hi Brandon…many things said that we need to be intentionally mindful of….thanks for deciding to follow “Unwalled”; I am truly honored. I pray that the Lord uses my posts to encourage, edify and inspire you in some way in 2017 and beyond…peace & blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve put into words so well, what I’ve spent my life trying to understand, and only now am beginning to appreciate. I couldn’t have said it better, Brandon. God bless. Whoever has ears to hear will hear.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said Brandon! I am a huge advocate of finding gratitude in the every day; appreciating life and the many blessings that God has given to us, no matter what our circumstances are. If we cannot be grateful for what we have, then how can we expect God to bless us more?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful!
    Words put so well by you!

    Daily I say thank you to God for giving me such a beautiful life, which many people are dreaming to live! Blessed. 🙂

    Goal is needed or must in life to feel “living” is worthy!

    Your write up made my morning! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Beautiful post! A good reminder to be happy and to appreciate what we already have; To be grateful and feel blessed for God’s provisions. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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