I had to get a new iPad this week, and unfortunately, there is a stout learning curve to master the new accessibility features I require. So while I adapt to this new challenge, I am sharing an oldie but goodie! Be blessed, and I’d appreciate prayers for patience and success in my iPad adaptation!
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7 – NIV
I love Charlie Brown. I can relate to him. Like Charlie Brown, nobody ever wanted this uncoordinated girl on their ball team. (Don’t worry…I’m over it!).
Yes, I grew up on the characters of that little comic world, often identifying with their struggles, learning from their sticky situations. One of their songs still sticks in the cobwebs of my mind. Perhaps you will recall it. It went something like…”Happiness is two kinds of ice cream, finding your skate key, telling the time…”
Happiness…It is the desire of our culture. Moms just want their kids to be happy. Young adults yearn for the job that fits their passion, makes them happy. Couples dream of those fairytale moments when they will at last be happy.
Happiness is that fleeting state of elation that fools us into thinking that all is right with the world. We are happy when we are in control. We are happy when things are going the way we planned them. We are happy when life turns out the way we expected.
Happiness is sunshine and ice cream. It’s adventure and romance. Happiness is wishful thinking, convincing yourself that all your plans have come to fruition. Happiness is that pat on the back when you realize it all worked out the way you planned it.
Yet, happiness is not real life. Real life is sick children, cars that won’t start, rush-hour traffic when you have an early appointment. Real life is a 12 hour workday, coming home and cooking dinner, then falling into bed, so tired you cannot think. Real life is cancer and heart attacks, and now in 2021, Covid. Real life is betrayal, hurt feelings, lost friendships.
When these things happen, happiness flies out the window. We stand there, looking around as if to say, “What just happened? How can this be?” We had it all planned. It was supposed to work out. “This is not how I thought it would be.”
We are left in a state of despair. We stare into the face of tragedy and ask, “Why?” We experience the heartache of loss, and we wonder, “How can I ever be happy again?”
It is in that very moment of utter despair that we are offered a unique opportunity, the chance to encounter an uncommon insight. Happiness is not all there is. There is something far better. There is joy.
Yes, happiness may have vanished, but joy stands ready to take its place.
While happiness depends on everything going just right, joy is not dependent on our circumstances. While happiness is me-driven, joy is God-driven. Happiness is dependent on me being in control, on my plans working out. Joy is dependent on knowing Jesus and trusting in His perfect plan for our lives.
Because of Jesus’ great sacrifice upon the cross, because of His most generous gift of grace, you and I have been granted eternal life. We have been saved, set apart, freed from the bondage of sin and death.
We no longer need to carry our burdens alone. We no longer need to fear or fret. For Jesus stands with us. He walks with us through whatever circumstance awaits us. We can rest in His presence, trust in His plan. No matter what happens in this sad and troubled world we inhabit, no matter what “real life” hurls our way, we know there is something more. There is Jesus, and in knowing Him, we find our joy.
Yes, real life can steal our happiness, but by the grace of God, nothing can steal the source of our joy.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:11 – NIV
O Lord Jesus, in You, we find our joy. You are our Savior, our Deliverer, our Friend. You are our Rock, our Refuge, our Redeemer. In You, we find our hope, and it is that hope that brings forth joy. O Lord, let us live joyful that we might bring light to this dark and troubled world.
In the Glorious Name of Jesus, we pray,