(James 1:2-4 NLT) - "When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be mature and complete, needing nothing."
I used to always strive for happiness. It seemed like a natural thing. I wanted to be happy. Happiness seemed like a great goal for my life. Why would a person not want to be happy, right?
But the older I get and the deeper I go with God, the more I realize that happiness is hard to achieve. And even when I somehow manage to achieve it, it is impossible to maintain. It didn't take me long to realize that a big part of the lack of contentment I felt in life was due to the fact that I was chasing after happiness, which is futile.
HAPPINESS is defined as:
A state of well being
A pleasurable or satisfying experience
God began to show me that the happiness I was chasing so hard after was not something that was of Him. Happiness is an emotion. It is dependent on circumstances, which means it is fleeting. It can come and then go out as quickly as it came when the circumstances of my life change. And because the only thing that endures in the world seems to be change, happiness is something that has blown in and out of my life like the wind itself because the nature of my circumstances are constantly changing and evolving.
He led me to the Scripture, Nehemiah 8:10...."The JOY of the Lord is your strength."
He brought back to my memory that this verse was prophesied to me at a very young age. I was in the 7th grade and the Youth Pastor of my church growing up was leaving to go pastor someplace else. On his last Sunday leading our Youth Group, he gave each of us cards he had written for us. The Scripture on the front was Nehemiah 8:10. He spoke about my having a servant's heart and encouraged me saying that he hoped that I would make the verse on the front of that card the theme of my life - "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Now, this particular Pastor had no idea that he was prophesying over my life, and neither did I at the time, but it was certainly interesting in hindsight.
God began to show me that I needed to stop wasting my efforts of chasing after happiness and begin to follow after His joy.
JOY in derived from the original Hebrew word, simchah, (Strong's concordance #8057) and is defined as:
Exceedingly, gladness, joyfulness, mirth, pleasure, rejoicing
Joy is just one of the qualities of the righteousness of God. Because of Jesus' finished work on the cross, joy is ours for the taking if we have knowledge of it enough to receive it. Like all characteristics of God, if we do not study the Word enough to know all the qualities of Him, we do not know what we can benefit from. It's all there waiting for us to receive it.
(James 5:19-20 NLT) - "If someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins."
Trials are inevitable in this life. Enduring troubles, trials, and temptations is a recurring theme in the book of James, and throughout the Bible. It's the failure to yield to the joy of the Lord through our circumstances that leaves us "wandering from the truth" that requires being "saved from death."
His joy produces His strength which develops in us endurance. And because joy is of God, it endures. So nowadays, I don't chase after happiness. I choose joy....the joy of the Lord....because that is what endures. His joy is better than any kind of temporary happiness. I would rather choose His joy any day...and when those moments come when God gives me happiness along with His joy, then it's just an extra gift of grace to be grateful to Him for.
Read Megan's story: www.hopecenterforwomen.org/megan