{Happiness}

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Declaration of Independence

Happiness.

As an American, I’m told that happiness is my right.

For the Declaration of Independence tells me so.

The Founding Fathers believed it to be self-evident that God gave us this right; but I can’t find it in the Bible. I searched for what the Bible tells us to pursue and I came up with enemiespeace, and the character traits of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Never once did I see happiness.

I think we Americans have taken this idea and run with it, much further than the writers of the Declaration of Independence ever intended. I agree with them that all men are created equal, and as such should be allowed to pursue life, liberty and happiness. However, the ultimate goal, the American dream, seems to have become to attain a lifestyle where we are happy. The prevalent path is through money, fame, and power. I’ve watched the Real Housewives, they’re not happy.

I’ve grown up with these words, this mantra ringing in my ears. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — what I’m entitled to as an American citizen.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ – Philippians 3:20

As a Christian, I’m more than an American, I’m a citizen of heaven. As such, the Bible declares a different set of rights for me:

Instead of a right to Life, I learn that the wages of sin is death and it is only through Jesus Christ that I have Life, and have it to the full.

Rather than Liberty, I find that I am born a slave to sin, and have the ability to escape that in becoming a bond-servant to Jesus. This is akin to Liberty because His yoke is easy and His burden is light, He will never give me more than I can handle.

As for happiness? Jesus tells me to seek first the kingdom of heaven. I am to be on guard that the worries of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for things don’t choke the word and make it unfruitful. The needs of others should be of equal importance to me as my own.

I am to find joy in persecution, joy in the works of the Lord, and joy in the repentance of sinners.

I’m not saying that God does not want us to be happy, that as Christians we should walk around like martyrs with downcast faces. Instead I’m saying that our happiness should not come from selfish gain or worldly pursuits. The longer I walk steadfastly with God, the more He changes my heart in this direction.

The self-evident truth to me is that our Savior is the only true source for Life, Liberty and Happiness.

 

How have you found that your faith connects to your happiness?


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31 thoughts on “{Happiness}

  1. So wait… the real housewives aren’t all happy? I suppose next you’ll be telling me that Disneyland is not really the happiest place on earth?! You’re shattering all my illusions, Melissa! :)

    It really is ingrained in us that we deserve happiness. In fact, we deserve death because of our sin and depravity, but Jesus made a way for us. I’m reminded of Psalm 32:1 (from Amplified Bible)- “BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, to be envied) is he who has forgiveness of his transgression continually exercised upon him, whose sin is covered.” That’s real happiness!

    Thanks Melissa.

    • Jason, if I didn’t know you better I would say you are mocking me. :) Haha! This year God has really been showing me the areas where I feel a sense of entitlement. I have this expectation of happiness, ease, provision, etc because I follow Him and submit to His will. He is showing me that Jesus’ work on the cross is saving me from what I’m entitled to, and the free gift of His grace is more than I deserve. Thanks for sharing that verse, it really goes along with what God has been speaking to me. :)

  2. This is so true, and just what I needed to hear right now! I get frustrated sometimes because I can’t have all the “stuff” I want right now, but I need to remember that there is no true happiness in things. New things quickly become old things, nice meals just get eaten, money just comes in and goes out. The only real, lasting happiness comes from the things God has given me, and most of those things I can’t touch.

    • I know exactly what you mean, I do the same. We’re told to just put it on credit, get what you want now and pay for it later. Hmm…sounds a lot like how Satan deals with us regarding our sin. He only wants us to think of the present and not the future. God is looking out for us and knows what is ahead. “The only real, lasting happiness comes from the things God has given me, and most of those things I can’t touch.” I like this… :)

  3. “As a Christian, I’m more than an American, I’m a citizen of heaven. As such, the Bible declares a different set of rights for me.”

    Excellent. Too often we don’t even think twice about taking the Declaration of Independence as our Christian way of life, but it’s not. We actually have to make a Declaration of Dependence upon God to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Great post.

    “The self-evident truth to me is that our Savior is the only true source for Life, Liberty and Happiness.” Amen.

    • Thanks, Heidi! As soon as I saw Bonnie’s prompt that quote came into my mind. I found as I wrote that I felt stronger about it than I knew. Haha!

  4. I agree with Tonya. You’ve got a good head on that shoulder of you, girl! :) And a heart that is so encouraging… I love your transparency. You’re smart and open hearted. Thanks for this very thoughtful post for our happiness jam! Illuminating!

    • I look forward to these each week, Bonnie. It’s so interesting to see how we all interpret it differently, or the same. :) And yours? Yours socked me right where I needed it to. Such great encouragement and talk about transparency. :) Thanks for hosting the jam, Bonnie.

  5. So many people put their pursuit of happiness in the wrong things. I can’t judge though because I’ve done the same thiinng & still do from time to time. Loved your post!

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  7. Well said! The American dream is not our ultimate goal. Our dual citizenship means we live a life of tension because God’s goals for us don’t usually match up with society’s. Thanks for the good reminder!

    • Not only do God’s goals not always match up with society’s, I’m finding that a lot of times my goals for myself are different than the ones God has for me. I want that power, money, fame, acclaim, recognition, success, whatever. God doesn’t really seem to be too concerned with that for me. :) Haha!

  8. Amen to this!

    I’m tired of hearing people say that they deserve to be happy. Do I like being happy? Yes, of course I do but you’re so right. We aren’t promised a life of happiness as Christians. Instead we’re to expect suffering and trials.

    I love the happy times in between but I find that the most growth occurs in the midst of the times when I’m clinging to the Lord. Only He can satisfy and sustain me.

    Great post and loved jamming with you.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

    • You’re so right! The times I’ve grown the most have been the ones I would not have chosen to go through. But God was right there walking me through it. Thanks for your kind words. :)

  9. Loved your post so must, I had to link to it in mine!! Your comments on the pursuit of happiness are spot on.

    From a human standpoint, we are forced to pursue happiness because it is not a natural part of our fallen world. But from a Biblical standpoint, God says He wants to give us the desires of our heart and give us good gifts as a father would do. The difference is that He gives it…we don’t pursue it!

    Wonderful insight. Thanks for the post.

  10. Excellent post, Melissa. To answer your question, I’ve found a direct connection between my faith and my happiness. It’s certainly strongest when things aren’t bad. When struggles come, it’s hard to maintain joy. I’ll be honest that right now I take no joy in the struggles. I’m human, I’m tired and I’m afraid to ask God to reveal more of Himself to me because the track record of what happens when I do that is painful. I just don’t want to be spiritually kicked in the teeth again right now.

    There’s more I’d like to say but this is your blog and I don’t want to hijack it. :) Again, excellent post.

    • From reading your last blog post I know you’re going through a time of transition right now. Those are always difficult times to be able to confidently say, “Trust God in all circumstances.” It’s hard when we feel like what God has for us is different from what we want for ourselves. Even when we know in our heads that His way is better, it’s painful to let go of our desires. Praying for you as you go through this time Jason.

  11. Brilliant, brilliant post, Melissa.

    Our culture (I’m in the UK, but it’s not much different to the US, at least in this area!) is so focussed on getting our rights, getting what we’re due, and we’ve confused a happy life with a good (worthwhile, virtuous) one.

    There’s a book by Stuart (or maybe Jill, I forget) Briscoe called ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Holiness’ – it’s one of those books whose title impacts me as much as its content!

    If I can take my focus off ‘me’ for a little while, I can see what good it does – imagine everyone in the world doing the same!

    Thanks for a great post – see you again soon!
    Jennie

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