TRIUMPHANT JOY #1: THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
The pursuit of happiness. This is the number one quest that people in our world have embarked on, but most people have failed to find this elusive thing called happiness. Although Canada and the United States are two of the most prosperous nations in the world, most people living here are not happy, joyful or content.
Have you ever read the United States Declaration of Independence? It says: “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.” Notice how they worded that: They are saying in essence, “You are guaranteed life and liberty, but happiness – you can pursue it, but good luck finding it!”
It’s interesting that our Canadian Constitution says, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.” We don’t have the right to pursue happiness here in Canada! (Now, the government doesn’t forbid us from pursuing it, it’s just not one of our guaranteed rights and freedoms as a Canadian citizen). Regardless, it seems like everyone in the world wants to be happy. But the question remains: How do we experience happiness?
Back in the 80’s, there was an annoying little song that Bobby McFerrin sang called, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” But somehow, being happy is a little bit more complicated than just positive thinking, isn’t it? So how do we get happy then? Everyone has a different answer. I tried an internet search on Google, “How to find happiness?” and came up with about 186 million results in 0.44 seconds. And every one of them was different!
Some people say, “Go to the bar, get drunk, meet other miserable people, and then you’ll be happy!” If you turn on the TV or the radio, every product commercial says, “Buy our stuff and then you’ll be happy. If you wear our jeans, you’ll be happy.” When you look at the magazine ad, the model wearing the jeans is smiling, so the implication is if you buy their brand of jeans, you too will be happy. Who knew the secret to happiness was so simple? “Buy some Wrangler jeans and you will be happy!”
Every talk-show host, every self-help book and magazine cover has their own version of the secrets to a life of happiness: “Ten steps to happiness, three steps to joy, and seven steps to Your Best life Now!” There are so many different ideas out there about how to become happy, and yet – people aren’t happy. Perhaps more than any other period of history, people today are sad, depressed and miserable. In fact, the number one prescribed medication in the world today is antidepressants. If you’ll pardon the pun – that’s sad.
The world tells us that if you can just get the right person or the right thing, you’ll be happy. If you get married, then you’ll be happy. If you have kids, then you’ll be happy. If you get a bigger house, better stuff, a newer car, the latest iPhone, then you’ll be happy. If you get the latest, slickest, coolest stuff, then you’ll be happy. But people who find the right person and get all the right stuff still aren’t happy. You get married, but your spouse doesn’t meet every need you have. You have kids, but with them come sleepless nights and the terrible twos. You get a new house, but then you have the stress of making mortgage payments. You get a new car, but then someone parks a little too close to you and now there’s a ding in the door. The bottom line is this: You won’t find true and lasting happiness in people or things.
If we want to discover the secret to experiencing joy and happiness, we must turn to God’s manual for life – the Bible. In the New Testament letter of Philippians, the theme is JOY. There we will discover that joy is not found in a process, but it is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Chris Jordan