I desire happiness for myself.
I desire happiness for those I love.
I want my children to be happy, to enjoy life.
Today I saw my brother who is devastated by the loss of his beautiful wife and terrified by the prospect of being a single parent of a one-year old.
I want him to be happy again.
Is this desire wrong? Is it simply that my time and my culture have taught me that happiness is what I should expect and pursue, or is it a deeper longing than that?
I have been taught by many fellow believers that the desire for happiness is either a sinful, selfish desire or that it is really just a longing for heaven, something for the distant future.
Is that truth or is there a deeper reason behind this deep longing and expectation of obtaining happiness on earth?
I begin to search God's Words, wanting to hear what He has promised.
I remember Jesus' words:
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~ John 10.10That certainly sounds like He means a full life here on earth.
Jesus also said this:
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. ~ John 15.9-12If we obey, we remain in His love. If we remain in His love, we have Jesus' joy in us!
This is a startling idea.
Perhaps part of the trouble is that the word "happy" has come to mean "fun" or "excitement".
Perhaps this is why so many in the Church have decided that we should delay happiness until we are with God. "Fun" is not what we have when our world is crumbling around us.
Paul, however, in Philippians 4.4 says:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Always. Not only when I'm having fun, not sometime in the future. Now and always!
That is a much deeper sort of happiness than what most people mean by that word.
Paul also says this in Romans 15:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Perhaps this is the key.
Trusting that He is always good and always love. Trusting that He will do what He promised, that He is here and working even when we can't see in the dark.
In II Corinthians, Paul talks about the grace that God gave the Macedonians:
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.This, then, is truth.
Joy, happiness, can be present even in the most severe trial, even in the darkness, every moment of every day.
It is a grace, a gift, given to us from God.
All we need to do is ask...and then trust.
Even in the dark.
~ ...though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ~ I Peter 1.6-9
~ To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. ~ Jude 1.24-25