Oh to be happy. It seems so elusive these days. I have a joy that breaks thru occasionally. A joy that is not tied to my circumstances. But I believe there is a difference between joy and happiness. Joy and sadness, suffering, can co-exist precisely because my joy is found in the Lord, and not my circumstances. So I can say I am joyful at times, even thru my grief and suffering.
But happiness is a different thing all together. As an American I have grown up with an “I deserve” mentality and that often creeps into my Christian walk. I wanted a guarantee that nothing bad would ever happen and that I would always be happy. But life has failed to grant me that guarantee. But the guarantee was a figment of my own imagination. God never made that promise nor guarantee. Listen to what a renowned, prolific author and special assistant to President Reagan had to say about us as Americans and our striving for happiness.
“Somewhere in the seventies, or the sixties, we started expecting to be happy, and society strained and cracked in the storm. I think we have lost the old knowledge that happiness is overrated; that, in a way, life is overrated. We have lost, somehow, a sense of mystery about us, our purpose, our meaning, our role. Our ancestors believed in two worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generations of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it has caused such unhappiness. The reason: If you do not believe in another, higher world, if you believe only that the flat material world around you is all there is, if you believe that this is your only chance at happiness, if that is what you believe, then you are not disappointed when the world doesn’t give you a good measure of its riches, you are despairing.” Peggy Noonan
God never guaranteed a happy, worry free life for me, without suffering. God guaranteed never to leave me or forsake me, and he never will; regardless of what it might feel like at times and regardless of my circumstances. He guaranteed to provide a way to Heaven for Grant, for me, and for all who believe. And He did. He guaranteed eternal, unending happiness in the next life, not this one. And despite the fact that I am sad, and suffering, and missing my son with every breath I take, I can find joy in the Lord, because of the guarantees He did make!