Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

The Myth of Happiness

on June 27, 2014

[Read John 15:1-17 and 16:16-24]

Many years ago, I read an article about a popular Christian musician who had recently divorced her husband and was about to remarry. The main thing I remember about the piece was that she had concluded divorce was OK because she knew God wanted her to be happy.

Guy with Chocolate

Image courtesy of stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Like anyone, I appreciate the idea of happiness. Eating chocolate, for instance, makes me happy. Having a good-looking fellow with a nice smile bring me that chocolate would certainly sweeten the deal. But that pleasure would be temporary. Soon the chocolate would be gone and, quite possibly, so would the guy.

Which begs the question: Is happiness what we should strive for?

In my experience, we get into a lot of trouble when we decide God’s laws — about marriage, work, relationships, sex, whatever — are flexible based on what will make us happiest. I’ve yet to read a translation of the Bible that has the verse, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you … unless it makes you happier not to” or “Thou shalt not kill/covet/steal, etc, unless you need to in order to find your bliss.”

From what I’ve read, the Bible talks about joy for believers about 300 times. But the words “happy” or “happiness” only occur about thirty times. I’m not a math person but I’m pretty sure that’s about one-tenth the number.

If you look up the two words in the dictionary, there isn’t much of a difference. But I contend — at least as far as those of us seeking to live for Christ are concerned — that they represent two opposing ways of looking at the ups and downs life tosses our way.

Joy is something within us. It blossoms out of our assurance of God’s love and, once you truly experience it, no power on earth can tamper with that joy. Heartache and grief can’t squelch the truth of God’s love. It’s more than a feeling, it’s a gift from Him, for Jesus told His disciples:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ~John 15:9-11

And it’s permanent. One chapter later, just before He was taken away to be crucified, Jesus added, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

All we have to do is ask.

Happiness, on the other hand, comes to us. It’s based on what we get — the things that mean so much to us now but have no eternal value.

Don’t chase these things. They’re a waste of time. Happiness depends on the fleeting iffy-ness of circumstances; joy dwells in the depth of our relationship with Christ. Once you find that, it’s amazing how unimportant all those insignificant little happy things become.

Though if a cute guy wants to bring me chocolate, I won’t turn him away.

So … what about you? Have you found the pure joy of a relationship with Christ? If not, would you like to?

Father, fill me with Your joy, the kind that can’t be taken away. Let me experience it in knowing Jesus personally. I want to know Him more than I want any of the things I once thought could bring me happiness. I give my life to You, not because of what You’ll give me in return but because of the joylessness of my life without You. Amen.

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6 responses to “The Myth of Happiness

  1. Carole Brown says:

    You’re got it right, Sharyn! Happiness doesn’t last, but peace can. Happiness is a temporary emotion, but peace everlasting. Good post!

  2. I like the distinction between the words happiness and joy as a way to process what’s going on inside me. Happiness seems easily gotten; joy seems hard fought. I also think, though, that a lot of the reason “happiness” seems so fleeting is that I don’t work to train myself about what true happiness is. I let culture or emotions or other people define my happiness. In this same way, we can be happy in Jesus if we let him define this satisfying pleasure.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, Sharyn.

    • sharynkopf says:

      I really appreciate that, Charity. It’s unfortunate that we let so many earthly things define happiness for us when it comes from God alone.

      Thanks for joining me here!

  3. vondaskelton says:

    Beautifully written, Sharyn! Thank you for taking down a lie of Satan. He’s the one who wants us to do what makes us happy, not what pleases the Father. Hugs!

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