It’s the season for wishing happiness to those around us.
Happy Christmas and Happy New Year are well intentioned phrases, and I certainly don’t want to suggest that we stop greeting each other in this way. However, happiness can never really meet the deep need of the human heart. There is something about it that is superficial and transient, enjoyable for the moment, but does it really touch the place within us that yearns for more?
The American constitution was founded on a belief that every human being has a God-given right to pursue happiness. Of course, we all have an ability to do that but, nowhere in the Bible does it imply that God has conferred some innate right to that pursuit. In fact, the Bible encourages us to pursue something completely different – that’s righteousness. This is because God knows that when we are right with Him, something happens within us in a much deeper way than mere happiness – that’s joy.
Happiness is primarily an emotion experienced in the soul of humans, whereas true joy is a condition of utter well-being in the human spirit. Joy comes when that part of us is made alive to the truth that, in Christ, we are unconditionally loved children of God. Two thousand years ago Jesus came to earth in order to make possible our reconciliation with Father God, to give human hearts ‘the oil of joy instead of mourning’ (Isaiah 61:3). Our intimate relationship with God had been lost but, through Jesus, humans could find again the place in God’s family for which they were created. What a Saviour!
Prayer: Father God, thank You for all the happy days in our lives, but thank You much more for the deeper awareness of eternal joy, made possible by the coming of Your Son Jesus. May that joy be known, this coming year, to all those that we care for, particular those who have yet to receive the One who came to Earth at the first Christmas. Amen.
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