Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Happiness :-)

happy baby

From what I’ve observed, healthy babies, like my 6 month old grandson, are generally happy babies. It seems that we are created to be happy, so why are so why are many adults unhappy?

I recently read a thought-provoking article titled “10 Things to Give up in Exchange for Happiness.” The article wasn’t written from a Christian perspective, but I think everyone, regardless of their beliefs, would probably agree with the author’s following suggestions.

exchange for happinessThey’re good suggestions, but…

According to research, only about 10% of those who make just one New Year’s Resolution will succeed in keeping that resolution. I think the problem with the list is that the author is essentially asking us to make multiple resolutions in our pursuit of happiness. What are the odds?

Even if some strong-willed person succeeded in overcoming every one of these 10 happiness thieves, do you think they’d really be happy? My experience with battling and, to some extent, conquering some of my many character flaws, is that, like to-do lists, it’s never-ending. My almost 18 year battle with ALS has confirmed this. ALS has completely taken away or greatly reduced almost every item on the above list. Let me give you some examples:

1. Give up caring what other people think of you. If you’ve been through a trial that has diminished your physical appearance and/or your abilities (having to use a wheelchair or losing your hair to chemo, etc.), you quickly discover just how image-conscious you are. You either decide to give up caring what others think of you or lock yourself away in a remote cabin in the woods. (I considered the latter, but I knew that Mary and the girls wouldn’t come with me so I reluctantly chose the former). Over the years I’ve become really good, maybe too good, at not caring what people think of me. I laugh to myself when Mary or my caregiver spend time trying to fix my hair and become frustrated if a few hairs won’t cooperate. As they’re fussing with my hair, I’m thinking to myself; I’m completely paralyzed, wheelchair-bound and can’t speak, I don’t think people will be looking at the hair.

2. Give up trying to please everyone. It’s hard to please anyone when you’re completely helpless.

3. Give up participating in gossip. I don’t think that I was ever a gossip (that’s probably what all gossips say), but it’s been so much easier not to gossip or say hurtful and dumb things since ALS stole my voice 17+ years ago. With the help of my new eye-tracking computer, I am still able to blog and email, etc. so I haven’t completely lost my ability to gossip or say dumb and hurtful things (my family and friends can attest to this). But, like most people who’ve been humbled by a difficult trial, gossip has hopefully been replaced by words of hope and encouragement.

8. Give up spending money on what you don’t need in effort to buy happiness. Before ALS, like most people, I spent money on unnecessary things and activities, like taking vacations, eating at nice restaurants and buying sporting equipment, etc. I don’t think that I was “attempting to buy happiness,” I just thought, and still think, that I was enjoying God’s blessings. Since ALS, I cannot go on vacations or go out to eat, and I certainly have no use for things like sporting equipment.

10. Give up control. I really fought thisone, but ALS finally forced me to give into Mary wearing the pants in the family. (I do still control the TV remote most of the time).

The problem I have with the list of “10 Things…” is that it’s advising us to give up emotional highs and weaknesses in exchange for happiness. But happiness is just another emotion, and, like all emotions, happiness is subject to our circumstances. For instance, sadness over the loss of a loved-one or other bad news, immediately destroys any happiness that we might have had.

Joy is much different. For Christians, joy might be hidden for a time, especially -
when we hear bad news or at the onset of a trial, but it’s always there. Hope in God is like a compass that leads us back to joy. And, as Webster’s dictionary defines it, joy is “the source or cause of great happiness.”

Don’t go crazy trying to balance your emotions in a pursuit of happiness; just look to God for hope and you’ll find true and lasting joy and that joy will result in happiness.

What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
CS Lewis Mere Christianity

 

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157 thoughts on “Happiness :-)

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  1. I stumbled across your blog and was scrolling though your page and I am so glad I stopped at this post. What a touching and genuine post. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful knowledge with all who are willing to read what you have to say. You are a true fighter, and I admire you for the battle you have fought over the years–the battle to keep your life and find happiness. I agree that others should not define what it means to be happy because it is totally within one’s own heart that happiness is truly found. Wishing you all the comfort and happiness in the world.

  2. This is such a great post and an insightful, biblical perspective. These kinds of lists that appear all over social media are so trite and I don’t think they help anyone. I think they make defeated people feel more defeated. The truth of the matter is that most people cannot stop doing one of the things on the list let alone all ten! It’s why we need the work of the Spirit in our daily lives. I love the C.S. Lewis quote at the end. It’s one of my favorite. Thanks again for a great perspective. I look forward to reading more as I have time.

  3. Really inspiring post!!! 🙂
    And beautiful grand baby 🙂

  4. You posted: “Don’t go crazy trying to balance your emotions in a pursuit of happiness; just look to God for hope and you’ll find true and lasting joy and that joy will result in happiness”

    Amen, amen! I am glad to have stumbled upon your blog. ♥

  5. Reblogged this on From guestwriters and commented:
    Lots of adults have lost the innocence they had as baby. Many of them also got so spoiled in their life that they can not find happiness any more in the small things of life.

    We should cherish each moment of the day that we can be alive and share our time with others.

  6. I loved reading this today. I have a long way to go. I especially loved the part that said, ” Hope in God is like a compass that leads us back to joy.” I long for that joy. I want to be like that little child that is so happy. Your grandson is so adorable and I can see that he brings you much joy in your life. Thank you for your words and for inspiring me to keep moving forward in the pursuit of joy. Meghan

  7. Pingback: “Happiness :-)” 8/26/2014 | God's group

  8. Your posts are always insightful and inspiring, Bill.

  9. “But happiness is just another emotion, and, like all emotions, happiness is subject to our circumstances. ” So true, Bill! I love how you have made clear that happiness is not the same as joy. Awesome post–I somehow missed it when you posted it. I’m glad I came back to check if I’d missed anything! 🙂

  10. hope your 6 months old grand-son is bringing you bundles of happiness… good to see you again!

  11. Great advice to ponder. I am a bit late but wanted to say thanks for the follow. Have a wonderful week.

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