When you think of happiness, what springs into your mind? If you’re anything like me then you’re always chasing after the next high, something that will satisfy the itch you have for contentment.
When you are in primary school you want to grow up and be one of the cool kids. Once in secondary school, you’re thinking about university or an apprenticeship. Then work, promotions, relationships and kids are on the radar and then… retirement! Now, none of these are bad things and there is certainly much happiness to be enjoyed at each stage but ultimately, they don’t satisfy long enough for us not to seek happiness elsewhere. In fact, in my pursuit of happiness and contentment, I find myself left hopeless and frustrated and statistics would suggest I am certainly not the only one.
So, will anything make us happy? Can anything truly satisfy? One philosopher has written the following, ‘We all look for happiness, but without knowing where to find it: like drunkards who look for their house, knowing dimly that they have one.’ That sounds about right, doesn’t it? We know vaguely what we’re looking for, but we don’t know where to look for it. We fumble around from one thing to another hoping that we will finally find the door to our house, but like the drunkard, our key won’t open just any door.
As a follower of Jesus, a Christian, I want to suggest to you that we can find the satisfaction and happiness we so deeply desire in Jesus. Jesus is behind the door that our key unlocks. Happiness is on offer and it is not beyond our reach!
Happiness is found in Jesus
In the Bible, God strongly advocates that we find happiness. He is said to be the Creator, the Creator of light, tasty food, the warm embrace and the beautiful view. God has made the good things in the world to point to the source of all happiness, full happiness, that is, himself. Psalm 16 says the following about God, ‘In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever’ (Ps. 16:11).
What if the Bible is true and happiness is not found in a thing or an experience but in a relationship and a person? Freddie Mercury from Queen begins to point us toward this reality, without knowing who it is he is pointing us to. He said:
You can have everything in the world and still be the loneliest man and that is the most bitter type of loneliness. Success has brought me world idolisation and millions of pounds, but it has prevented me from having the one thing we all need, a loving, ongoing relationship.
Enter Jesus, sent to show us what God is like, fully human yet fully divine. He came to lift our eyes from our futile attempts to satisfy ourselves and show us where to find true happiness and true satisfaction. Jesus points to himself.
At one time he said, ‘I am the bread of life’, claiming to be the only person that will forever satisfy the hunger we each know. Another time he said, ‘I have come that you might have life and life in all its fullness.’ He offers true freedom and true happiness. In Jesus you become the person he created you to be, and in that, you can be happy in yourself to the greatest extent you thought imaginable.
A real life happiness
Jesus offers us real life, not a dull, restrictive and stripped-down version of life. Jesus frees the Christian to see that every moment of joy and pleasure that we have now is just a shadow of the ultimate happiness which he alone can offer and which lasts forever.
You might think then, that Christians have a permanent smile on their faces, unhinged from the realities of the darkness and frustrations in the world, soothed into a life of putting their fingers in their ears. This is not the happy life Jesus was displaying or offering. Jesus was not unhinged from the realities of life. As a boy he would have fallen and cut his knee and as an adolescent he would have felt growing pains. He hungered, needed water and ultimately, he knew what it felt like to be betrayed, beaten, mocked and sentenced to the cruel death of crucifixion.
If Jesus were God, why would he become human and experience the things we do? He came, lived and died so that you could know everlasting life with him. The happiness of this life is important to God but his greatest concern is you. He wants to forgive your sin and give you life everlasting.
The happiness on offer from Jesus is not fairy-dust magic. It is entrenched in the reality of the world around us. Paul writes in the Bible that Jesus brings a peace that is beyond understanding (Phil. 4:7). In the face of difficulties, the Christian can keep their eyes on Jesus who has shown us how to live and told us that he will restore all things and make things right. Trusting in Jesus is much more than a coping mechanism, many of the frustrations we feel will not disappear overnight, but when we know Jesus our eyes are lifted up from the situation we are in to something greater.
What about you?
You might be reading this and feeling sceptical that in Jesus you can find happiness. Maybe the route to happiness in Jesus isn’t exactly what you thought either as it’s not a wave of a wand but about being won over by Jesus, experiencing forgiveness through his death for us and finding the rich satisfaction of life in him.
Why not investigate further? You may have more questions after reading this than before and that is great! Take the opportunities that your local evangelical church presents and test this for yourself. Hear and read how Jesus interacted with people and listen to his words as he explains the world in a way you’ve never heard before. Ask yourself, is Jesus truly the thing I’ve been looking for all this time? Could God make me happy?
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