Week 3: Thursday
- Psalm 30:1–12
- Philippians 4:4–7
- James 1:2–4
Questions to Consider
- What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy?
- What is the difference between happiness and joy?
- How do we experience joy even when we may not be happy?
- How does Jesus give us joy?
Plan of Action
- Take a moment and pray to thank God for the moments of happiness in your life. Then ask him for the gift of faith and trust to experience joy in the unhappy moments of life.
- Write down one thing you know will not make you happy, but is the right thing to do. Then go do it. Then come back and write down how God gave you joy in spite of your unhappiness.
- Bring good cheer! Find one way that you can brighten somebody’s day. It might be giving a balloon to a child, flowers to a spouse, or a thank you note to a colleague.
The Declaration of Independence begins:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The pursuit of happiness! It is highlighted in the Declaration of Independence. It was the title of an inspirational movie starring Will Smith. It is what so many people make to be their highest ambition in life.
The pursuit of happiness certainly seems something worthwhile to strive for. It’s certainly not a bad thing. It’s just not the best thing. Today we will give up the pursuit of happiness in exchange for a fruit of the spirit called “Joy.”
Happiness is ever elusive. We take hold of it in a moment. But just as easily as we take hold of it, it slips out of our fingers. Happiness is based upon our circumstances. Some things in life make us happy. Other things make us unhappy. Happiness is temporary because happiness is an emotion based up on our circumstances.
However, joy transcends our circumstances. Joy is a conviction. Joy is developed out of a confident trust in God knowing he is in control and has our best interests at heart. Joy looks beyond our current circumstances to God’s ultimate purposes and truths.
If you are married you know there are moments in life when your spouse makes you happy. You also know there are moments when your spouse does not make you happy. The same is true with our work, school, church, and so many other things in life.
There are many people who think God just wants them to be happy and so they will pursue in any given moment the thing that makes them happy. In the pursuit of happiness they will exchange the will of God for instant gratification. Happiness becomes a drug that is to be pursued at any cost. It doesn’t matter the devastation and the consequences caused in its wake.
Doing the right thing is not always the happy thing. But doing the right thing is ultimately the most fulfilling thing in that it will bring us joy. Joy is about a state of being. It is living with a confident faith and trust in the goodness of God.
The book of Philippians is called a prison epistle. It is a letter written from prison by the Apostle Paul. Prison was certainly not a happy experience for Paul. Ancient prisons would make modern prisons look like the Ritz Carlton. But in spite of apostle’s desperate circumstances, he speaks about joy in this letter more than in any of his other writings. He says:
Rejoice in the Lord always I will say it again rejoice. Philippians 4:4
It doesn’t say rejoice sometimes. It says rejoice always: in the good times and the bad times, the happy times and the unhappy times. Paul could rejoice even in prison because of the relationship he had with God.
So let’s give up the pursuit of happiness and join the quest for joy!