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Friday, August 24, 2007

Lasting Happiness

Lasting Happiness

My pastor likes to point out that when someone says they are blessed, they are really saying that they are being made happy. Indeed, my Fourth Edition American Heritage Dictionary says that being blessed means to have "happiness, pleasure, or contentment."

So, my question to you is, are you happy? Or perhaps, what brings you happiness? Is it winning that softball game? Or having your team win the Super Bowl? Or climbing to the top of the mountain? Or going to a movie on Friday night? What is it that gives you pleasure and makes you happy?

When I was a kid of 10, I loved to go to the amusement park. It was great fun. What did you love to do when you were young? Go on a vacation? Go to camp? Today, I suppose young people want the latest electronic device – an XBox ™ or an iPod™ which they are sure will make them happy.
Big kids want a hunk for a husband or a beauty for a wife. They want a house and a nice car. They want a Plasma TV and a good job.

Those are understandable objectives. God has blessed us (made us happy) by making it possible for us to get stuff that makes us happy—at least temporarily. But the car wears out, the house needs repairs, and even the best TV will eventually have to be replaced.

Wanting stuff, wanting your team to win, and wanting to attend concerts are nice things to do, providing you keep them in perspective. But when you and I get to the place where we think we must have stuff in order to be happy, we’ve been sucked in.

When I was in the Army, I was stationed at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. We were always up early and often out in the desert for a test. It was amazing. You could see the most incredible, shimmering mountains and lakes. But the mountains and lakes were only mirages. 

Looking for lasting happiness by getting stuff is the Devil’s illusion. I know folks who think: If I can only get that job, I’ll be happy. If I can only get that raise, I’ll be happy. If I can only have that woman, I’ll be happy. If I only had his bank account, I’d be happy. If I had a million dollars, I’d be happy. If I could be famous, I’d be happy. If I just had power, I’d be happy.

When you think you have to have something to be happy, or worse, when you think you need what someone else has to be happy, you have gone from enjoying God’s blessings, to coveting what others have. 

Yes, there are countless books on how to win the right girl, and how to make a million dollars, and how to get ahead, but if you become obsessed with such goals, I’m afraid you’re not going to find contentment and happiness, just disappointment.

If you think the rich and famous are so happy, then the next time you go through the check out line at the grocery store, just take a glance at the headlines in the celebrity magazines. Do you see any happy people there?

So how do you obtain lasting happiness? Real, lasting happiness comes from knowing that God loves you. Knowing He loves you so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to rescue us from our imperfections (sins), is a love so great it’s almost impossible to comprehend. Living in God’s love we can have real joy and happiness in our lives, even when things are going wrong. We can overcome life’s hurdles and problems, knowing that He cares for us as no one else can. People, stuff, and events will disappoint us, but God will never disappoint us.

It’s hard for me to remember who won the Super Bowl last year and I haven’t a clue as to who won it the last five years. The happiness that comes from stuff is soon forgotten, but the happiness that comes from knowing God loves me, never goes away. And, knowing that in spite of all my faults and weaknesses, I will, through His grace, spend eternity in happiness with God, is the greatest happiness of all. 

I wish you this never-ending happiness, too.

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