Lasting Happiness | November 19th, 2016
It was a Saturday morning. The sun was shining brightly and I woke up in the mood to create something new and exciting. Something out of beads as I really enjoy designing jewelry. I was made to be creative and find myself most happy when I am using my gifts and talents simply creating. I needed a little inspiration, however, so I got ready for the day and drove straight to my favorite bead store.
As my eyes were scanning the many rows of beads, there was one particular strand that caught my attention. It looked like it had some sort of Chinese character engraved on the beads. I was quite drawn to it so I put a strand in my basket and continued to shop.
After I finished filling my basket with new inspiration, I went up to the register and asked the girl working if she could possibly tell me the meaning of the engraving.
She took a closer look at it and said, “Why, yes! This is the Chinese character for happiness.” I was immediately inspired to get to work making a piece of jewelry I could wear that would remind me of the feeling I always get when I am doing what I love…creating.
What exactly is happiness, anyway? The definition according to Wikipedia is this:
Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions which range from contentment to intense joy.
Here is a photo of my sister and me playing together…a definite moment of happiness!
Happiness through Circumstances
There are many things I experience in life that bring me this feeling of happiness. For example, getting greeted by Emma, my smiling Pomeranian, who runs toward me as fast as her little legs can take her when I come through the door. Or hearing my sister’s sweet voice when she gets a few moments out of her busy day to call me. Another that comes to mind is when I am freely moving all of my muscles in a state of blissful suspension while exercising in my most favorite place…the pool.
But if happiness is a state of well-being defined by our emotions, then it is definitely subject to change. One moment we can be experiencing pure happiness, and the next could be unhappiness when circumstances don’t remain the same. Is there any way possible that we can continually maintain living in a state of happiness?
A research group called Action for Happiness narrowed it down to Ten Keys to Happier Living, advocating that the GREAT DREAM of happiness is all made up of actions:
• Giving – do things for others
• Relating – connect with people
• Exercising – taking care of your body
• Appreciating – awareness of what you do and the world around you
• Trying Out – doing new things
• Direction – doing things towards a goal
• Resilience – bouncing back after something negative
• Emotion – being positive about what you do
• Acceptance – that we all have faults and that things go wrong
• Meaning – being part of something bigger
These sound pretty right on, don’t they? And perhaps people really do experience some level of happiness when they act on these “keys to happier living.” But if they do not involve God, it is not possible for them to give lasting happiness.
Seeking a relationship with God is what will give us happiness that never ends. He is the only One who can give us the fulfillment and contentment that we crave. Through our relationship with Him as our Lord and Savior, we will discover HIS great dream for our lives to bring Him glory.
Happy the people to whom such blessings fall! Happy the people whose God is the Lord! Psalm 144:15
Our Search for Happiness
Isn’t it interesting how, unlike any other search, we search for happiness in every place we can think of and often it is right there in the very last place we look? That last place is in God, the One who greatly desires to give us that happiness we’ve been searching for all along through an intimate relationship with Him. How much time and effort we waste on trying to find it through any and all other means!
Christian apologist and author, C.S. Lewis, understood why our search for happiness through what the world offers is always meaningless, empty, and unsatisfying in the end:
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”
In a relationship, intimacy is the experience of truly knowing and being known by another person. If you have an intimate friend, you feel very close to them whether they are sitting right next to you or they are thousands of miles away. You know each other on a deep level. If something happens between the two of you to damage that intimacy, your relationship becomes more superficial.
Three Steps to Intimacy with God
Intimacy with God is completely available to you if you want it. What an amazing gift He offers! But there are three essential steps that must be taken before intimacy with God is possible.
Your relationship with God must begin with BELIEVING He exists. According to a 2013 Harris Poll, only 54% of Americans believe with absolute certainty in God’s existence.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
If you are not sure God exists, ask yourself how much you are truly seeking Him. Do you have an aching void without Him? Or are you trying to ignore it by filling up your heart with only that which the world offers, dulling the desire underneath it all that can only be satisfied with Him?
The amount of effort you put forth in seeking Him relates directly to the amount of your desire for Him. When you seek after Him, He will reward you by giving you exactly what you are looking for – lasting happiness which is God Himself drawing near to you.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
You must TRUST Him. Trust is one of the most important elements of intimacy. If you do not trust someone, you can never have a close relationship with that person. Relationships are built on trust, so the more you trust God, the more intimately you will come to know Him.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
In addition to rewarding you when you seek after Him, God also rewards your trust. His blessings are overflowing when you believe He is able to do what is best through His power and goodness by acknowledging Him and following His guidance in all you do rather than trying to make all of your decisions on your own.
He has laid out a path for your life before you were even born – one that is meant to prosper you, give you hope, and a future. Following His plans for your life by doing what He created you to do to bring Him glory will give you lasting happiness because He is in the center of it. You can’t go wrong!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
You must have a DESIRE to know Him. God makes Himself known to us through His creation. We are all surrounded by it so there is not a single person without an excuse to know that God exists.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20
To know Him more intimately, however, you must draw near to Him.
“Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” James 4:8
What does it look like to draw near to God? Think about how you would become closer to a friend. First, you would talk to them on a regular basis so they would get to know you better. Praying allows you to share about yourself with God by telling Him how you feel such as what you fear or what brings you joy. The more you talk to God, the more comfortable you will feel in sharing with Him, just as it is with a new relationship with a friend.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12
Then, you would also want to learn about your friend and their character if you are to become closer to them. You can learn about God’s character in His Word, the Bible, so you can get to know who He is more intimately.
Everything you need to know about Him is written in it which is His letter to you. The more you get to know Him, the greater your desire will be to learn about Him and live a life that is pleasing to Him. His Word is filled with wisdom that He longs to share with you.
Take a little time each day to read a chapter or two out of His Word. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn about His character and how He always has something to teach you that you can apply to your life every time you open the Bible!
For the Lord grants wisdom! His every word is a treasure of knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6
If you truly have a deep desire within to know Him, He will draw near to you. That’s a promise. And that is where you will find true, lasting happiness.
I took one of those beads with the Chinese character, happiness, and I made it into a beaded tassel necklace:
Whenever I wear it I will be reminded that if I want lasting happiness, I need to make my relationship with God a priority so it will be one that becomes more intimate over time through a deeper trust as I allow Him to be Lord of my whole life.
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Grow your intimacy with God by spending time talking to Him every day. He greatly desires to hear about the details of your life…your thoughts and feelings, your struggles and your joys.
Sparkler #2: Action
Take time each day to read God’s letter to you so you can get to know Him more deeply by learning about His character and the wisdom He has for your life.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Do not allow your desire to know God intimately to be dulled by the temporary happiness the world offers. Experience lasting happiness by seeking Him with all your heart.
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