No matter what stage of life we’re in, it seems like we’re all on the quest to find happiness.
What does happiness really mean and where can it be found? Why is it so elusive? It seems like just as we start to reach a place where we are “happy,” something happens and it slips out of our fingers or after a while it simply fades away.
The pursuit of happiness can be exhausting, leaving us feeling empty and hopeless. I think the only cure for this is realizing that God does not promise us happiness, but he does promise us something far more enriching and satisfying: Joy!
He promises joy no matter what we are facing, which means this joy goes beyond our circumstances and trials.
Whenever I think of joy, James 1:2 always comes to my mind, “Count it pure joy … when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (NIV)
Of course this concept of having joy in the Lord is not always as easy as we wish it were. I have found it very difficult to “count it all joy” while in the storm.
But most recently, I was convicted of this when I was rummaging through old pictures and I found some from the time shortly after my husband, Scotty, was injured in Iraq. Something caught my eye as I was looking through these pictures.
Even though I was living out of hotels and hospital rooms, my entire world had just been turned upside down and everything had changed in what looked like the worst way possible; I was smiling and laughing in so many of them.
Wow, how quickly we can lose perspective. I had pure joy, pure laughter and uninhibited peace at a time when my circumstances were the opposite of all of those things. I was reminded of how incredibly rich and peaceful this joy is that God offers us.
Perseverance is defined as a, “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success Wow! By that definition I want perseverance at whatever cost and happiness, however enjoyable it might be in the temporal, will not produce that type of steadfastness in us.
God has called us to difficult things. He has let it be known that we will face trials and testing; but he has promised we will not be alone and that even in the midst of our storms we can find true and lasting joy.
So often we think that happiness is what we are missing, but I’m learning through my journey that it’s actually joy that God wants for us. Joy from the Lord is the only thing strong enough to carry us through all of life’s ups and downs. Happiness will come and go, but joy remains constant.
What a reassurance to know that no matter what trial this world sends our way there is absolutely nothing that can steal our joy in Christ. Nehemiah 8:10 “Do not grieve, the joy of the Lord is your strength” (NIV)
The pictures I’d rediscovered spoke to me all these years later, in a time where I’m finding happiness hard to come by and where joy seems impossible to uncover. I’m reminded that with each new day there is change and renewal and an opportunity for perseverance to be built.
Today and always, I’m thankful for the pure, sweet trials and testing that has produced endurance in me, and that I can count it all joy.
Tiffany Smiley is a freelance writer and motivational speaker who blogs at www.tiffanysmiley.com. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.