It’s an easy phrase, isn’t it? Catchy. Scratch it over a sunset and hang it on the wall. A simple decision. Today, I choose to be happy. Bang; and it’s done.
This is what I’m told. The reality can be very different. It’s all well and good when you’re well and good…but when you’re not, – well. Positive thinking doesn’t make it any better.
Happiness happens to you. It’s there or it’s not. It’s your situation. The home you’ve dreamed of. The job you worked for. The family you expect. The health you take for granted.
These are good things – but they’re not mine to choose. The right to get married. The right to a decent wage. The right to a partner. The right to enjoy life. The right to live the way I see fit.
If I see these things as rights, they’ll destroy me. Because when they’re taken from me, my hope becomes despair. If they’re my reason for living, then without them, I’m finished.
If my reason is health, I am lost when cancer returns.
If my reason is family; then alone, I am nothing.
If my reason is work, I lose my job and I lose myself.
If my reason is beauty, I lose my looks and I am worthless.
So, do we settle down for misery and a life stripped of hope? No. At times like these, we give up on happiness – but instead, we fight for joy. Gospel joy. Deep Christian peace – whatever happens.
Hurting; but not running, not hiding, not anaesthetising and not giving up. Knowing that Jesus is enough – even for this.
Ask me what I want, and I say, “to be happy.” But the Bible offers much, much more –
“Joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
This joy is far from the world’s idea of happiness and comfort. As Peter testifies, it’s not only tested by fire – it is found in the furnace. It comes through suffering and sadness and sickness, but it outlasts them all. And nothing can take it from us.