Are you happy today? On a scale of 1-10 how happy are you? If you are like me, that scale can fluctuate all day long. Or sometimes, I can even get stuck in an unhappy mood. Truth be told, I’m not in a very good mood today. I would probably circle a “3” on a scale of happiness right now. A situation rubbed me the wrong way yesterday, and I still feel a little irritated about it today. I’m a little mad just thinking about it, and I just don’t feel that happy. But I am a Christian. Should I really be at a “3”?
The more I read the bible, the more I see real life. In John 16:33, Jesus says “I have told you these things, so that you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus spoke these words to his disciples after he foretold of his departure. He explained that they would grieve and experience rough times in the days to come, but that’s not where the story would end. Those painful days would be a small piece to their greatest joy. Jesus would soon reveal his great love for them (and for us) on the cross, and he would (and will) return again. Jesus explained that he would give them (and us) the kind of joy that no circumstance or person could take away. Jesus stated in John 16:24, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” He wasn’t telling the disciples that that they wouldn’t and shouldn’t experience unhappiness. God created man, and the human body was created with emotions. Jesus was giving them hope in the difference between feelings of happiness and an everlasting joy.
I want the kind of joy that can’t be taken away? Don’t you?…The good news is that as believers, we already have this joy dwelling within us. We just sometimes confuse joy with happiness. Emotions will come and go, and we must work through them. Our joy relates to our peace in Christ. Author and pastor, Rick Warren has a wonderful definition of joy.
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”–Rick Warren
The lost world (and sometimes even a believer) seeks joy in all the wrong places. No person, job, thing, success, or experience is going to provide a joy that is complete. People will let us down, life continues to change, and opportunities can disappoint. Jesus taught of his joy in John 15:11.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11
What was told to the disciples? Chapter 15 speaks richly of God’s love and our commission to love others. Jesus tells us to remain in him; abide in him. We are to make ourself at home in God’s love, which is exactly what Jesus has done. Jesus wants the joy that he has, to be our joy. God is love and deposits that love in our hearts when we submit our life to him. We are to make him our dwelling place, not our earthly pursuits. We all have a God shaped hole in our heart, and we try so hard to patch it on our own. When we ask Jesus to dwell in our heart as our Savior, God’s love permanently fills that God shaped hole. Our joy is complete!
So, is there hope for my unhappiness? How do I move up from a “3”? After digesting the conversation between Jesus and his disciples, I can remind myself that a “3” is temporary and a result of normal human emotion. It doesn’t define me today or tomorrow. I am going to pray, and keep praying. In my particular situation, for starters, I am going to pray for my heart to want to forgive, and then I will forgive out of obedience. Then I am going to trust God with my heart that isn’t really “feeling it” right now. I will trust him to cleanse my heart from the inside out. I am going to remember that Jesus taught that love for others is part of his joy. I am going to drink in God’s Word through scripture until it drowns the enemy’s lies from my head and heart. I am going to seek Godly encouragement through bible study, Christian authors, and the encouraging people in my life. But most of all I am going to be still and know that God is God, and he’s got this. I am going to unhurry my heart so that I can listen to him. I am going to LISTEN to God tell me to empty my heart of hurry-scurry emotions, and I am going to obey. And I am going to rest in my Savior’s peace and joy, and I’m going to praise him. I am going to take a deep breath and persevere through my unhappiness (even if that needs tears and days) until my heart feelings catch up with my heart knowledge that my joy is complete in Christ alone.
Dear Lord, I need you close today. I’m a little unsteady. I have all these shards in my heart and tiptoe around the tiny slivers that I have dropped as I continue to walk around with this hurt. I need to feel your peace. I need to be reminded that my joy does not come from feelings of happiness, but of my completeness in you Jesus; and nothing can take that away. Thank you Father. I trust in you to restore my hope as you restore each broken sliver and soften the edges of my mended heart. Amen.