How do I find happiness in life?
Published on 11 August 2020
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
-3 John 1:2 (NKJV)
In the reality of life’s journey, there will be different ‘seasons’; just as the first cold breeze of winter announces the end of a golden autumn, different seasons will come and go.
Perhaps this season of your life has brought some challenges with it such as strained relationships, roadblocks to your goals or financial pressures. In such times, we have to take care of our mental health and inner strength more than ever— especially when happiness seems out of reach. Our prayer for you is that your soul (mind, will and emotions) prospers along with your physical health and spiritual life, in EVERY season.
What is happiness?
The pursuit of true happiness is an unending quest to quench our thirst for a ‘full’ life. Unfortunately, this ‘fullness’ is often defined by a world that loves to bombard us with ideas and images of what happiness should look like. It claims that true happiness is the result of becoming thinner, prettier, richer, healthier, popular, successful or being in a secure relationship.
This state of being ‘happy’— as defined in The Oxford Dictionary— is ‘fleeting’ in nature. It is inevitable that when we successfully tick one of these things off our list, we experience a ‘high’ of happiness that is wonderful, but does not last— driving us to become consumed by the next thing that promises another ‘shot’ of happiness. Unfortunately, life keeps moving on and wrinkles appear, once-lucrative investments take a bad turn or our health deteriorates. What then? Tired, frustrated, angry, depressed and coveting what we can’t and don’t have—can we ever truly be happy?
Happiness vs. Joy
In stark contrast to this short-lived feeling called ‘happiness’, there is a far more lasting and potent emotion that can awaken hope in every Christian, at any moment and in any season. It’s called JOY. Joy is an emotion, but unlike happiness, is not situational or reliant on external factors such as the riches, fame and glory that the world offers us. Joy is a gift that God freely gives those who choose to RECEIVE it!
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
-Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
Joy is not the absence of ‘storms’ in life, but knowing, without doubt, that our loving Heavenly Father is present with us in the storm— close at hand to sustain us, and fighting for and with us. It is an emotion that is confident, steadfast and strong—not easily moved by challenging circumstances!
So when you face bitter challenges or hard seasons in life, instead of panicking about the threat to your happiness, why not pause for a moment and let HOPE and JOY stir up inside you. You do not need to embrace defeat or allow your head to hang low in misery. Instead, CHOOSE JOY! Rejoice that God has called you to be an overcomer! When isolation pushes you into the corner of depression, or when you find yourself in a season of uncertainty, listen to God’s voice encouraging you that He is greater than any situation and will stand with you to see the victory together!
“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
-Nehemiah 8:10b (NKJV)
In his book, “Acceleration Pt. 1 : Fire”, Pastor Russell Evans recalls a powerful testimony about his mother, Pastor Lorraine Evans, who struggled with heavy depression after having a terrible encounter with a huge snake while she was a missionary in Papua New Guinea. Her condition was so severe that she had to return to Australia and was hospitalized for some time in a psychiatric facility.
Pastor Lorraine, who was a very strong, Bible-believing woman, quoted the Bible constantly and engaged every spiritual tool available to her to battle her sickness. She was determined to overcome and chose to praise God through it all. When she did, the atmosphere around her would change and the depression would lift. When the depression returned, she would persist using the weapon of praise— day after day— firmly believing that God would bring permanent breakthrough. One day, after an 18-month-long battle, she encountered the ‘fire of God’ in a church meeting where she was miraculously healed. She merited her freedom to the profound power of praising God in every season, whether on the highest mountain or in the lowest valley. She had found joy through praise!
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
-Romans 8:35-38 (NLT)
Knowing that you are loved
What is striking in the above Bible verse, is the undeniable and inexhaustible love that God has for us. We are valued and sought after, and our lives are precious to Him. Many search for love elsewhere, but the love of God is incomparable, unconditional, keeps no record of wrong, never gives up, never loses faith and endures through every circumstance (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). God’s love is so extravagant that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross; paying the ultimate price for our salvation. He died a criminal’s death, even though He was innocent, taking our sins upon Himself. With such a revelation of the depth of God’s love for us, the evidence in our lives should be a manifestation of joy as a firm foundation we can stand on, despite whatever it is that we may be facing in life. God promises to give us life and life to the fullest!
“...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”
-John 10:10 (NIV)
“...My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life”
-John 10:10 (NLT)
Finding your purpose in life
If happiness is fleeting in nature, our quest should shift to finding what will last for eternity. We hear of inspirational legends like Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, who lived lives of lasting impact and whose purpose it was to serve selflessly, love unconditionally, and fight for the value of all humanity. Driven by such incredible vision, they lived rich and fulfilling lives, DESPITE facing great challenges and obstacles to their happiness. You too, can choose to live a life of significance.
Following is another great quote from Ps Russell Evans: “God’s dream for you involves a unique task, a unique message and a unique vision”. When you invest time in God’s Word (the Bible) and in prayer, allow Him to unveil His dream for you. Life is worth living when you discover that your life has a bigger purpose, fueled by a vision and passion from God. You can read more on this topic in his book, “Acceleration Pt. 1 :Fire”.
Everyone desires to be happy, but perhaps instead of pursuing a temporary emotional ‘high’, let’s instead seek after the eternal ‘substance’ of joy that anchors us in any storm of life.
Armed with the knowledge that you are loved, that you have a unique purpose in this world and that nothing is impossible with God, live your best life— boldly and confidently! After all, we serve a God who is able to do, “exceedingly abundantly above all that we dare ask or imagine” (see Ephesians 3:20) and THAT, should make us very happy!
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