The Pursuit of Happiness - Devotion
With this series finale, we would be remiss not to reference our series title. More specifically, its origins.
In June of 1776, Thomas Jefferson penned the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. In it, he wrote one of the most memorable lines in history which was later revised by Congress. It read, “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.”
The Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness series has been exploring these themes through the lens of scripture. After all, it’s the Word that we live by first.
This is the day the Lord has made, we shall rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24)
Have you ever uttered the words, “I just want to be happy?” Maybe you had just been through a rough season and you couldn’t see the horizon. Maybe you have been constantly pouring into the lives of those around you and you are beginning to feel dry. Maybe you've been struggling in the depths of depression. Whatever may be clouding your mind and stealing your present happiness, the answer can only be found in joy... joy that only comes from the Lord.
There is a divine difference between happiness and joy. The enemy uses distraction and deception to get us to purchase a counterfeit offer. Happiness seeks satisfaction, while joy is content with its present circumstances (Philippians 4:12) Happiness is exclusive to outcomes, while joy remains a constant regardless of unpredictable outcomes. Happiness is contingent upon circumstantial events, while joy is produced within us. Pursuing happiness will always leave you unsettled because it will never sustain you. Happiness is for a fleeting moment, but joy is everlasting.
Recently, Pastor Noel said that we will find what we look for. If you’re looking for a reason to complain about your present situation, you’ll find one. If you’re looking for offense, you’ll find it. However, if you are looking for the One who can refresh your weary soul, you’ll find Him. If you’re looking for the One who pours the oil of joy for mourning, you’ll find Him. If you find Him, you’ll find joy. The Bible reminds us that, “in Your presence is fullness of joy.”(Psalm 16:11) Joy has also been described as inexpressible and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)
The Lord is able:
To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)
Historically, oil was poured upon people during celebratory feasts. Everyday may not be filled with the whimsical nature of celebratory holidays. However, let us not grow desensitized to the fact that we have been given a reason to rejoice. We have been given a reason to dance, to shout, and to leap for joy!
Let us make conscious decisions to glorify God in every single thing that we do.
Rejoice in brushing your teeth knowing you have been given the strength in your body to do so. Rejoice in putting those fussy babies to sleep knowing those children were once prayers. Rejoice in going to that job or that business meeting you may be dreading, knowing that the Lord has been faithfully providing for you. Rejoice in the fact you have breath in your lungs despite how many times the enemy tried to take you out. Rejoice in the fact that you get to go to school this upcoming year, knowing that education is a blessing that not all have the ability to afford or pursue. Rejoice in those children, absent parents, and siblings who came back home. I believe we need to be reminded that HEAVEN REJOICES over one sinner repenting (Luke 15:7 & Luke 15:10) Rejoice in knowing your Redeemer lives. Rejoice in knowing that you have been carried since birth (Isaiah 46:3)
Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I understand life may not be going according to plan. The kids may be rambunctious, the diagnosis may be life threatening, the schedule may have you running ragged, the upcoming semester may be intimidating- but let us remember and rejoice in the fact that even when seasons change, our God never does.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Joy will keep you rooted to your Savior when the winds of life begin to blow.
Joy will keep your heart uplifted when discouraging news may try to cripple you.
Joy of the Lord exceeds the heaviness of the burden.
Joy is not a passive emotion but instead it is an intentional choice. Happiness is defined by emotion but joy is defined by the truth. Happiness can be your mood but rejoicing has to be your attitude. We cannot allow our emotions to control or consume us.
James 1:2-3 reminds us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Finally, Christian joy flows from realizing our position in Christ. He knows us by name. We are Sons and Daughters of the King. He is not unaware of your needs today. Whether you find yourself on the mountain top or in the midst of the valley, remember and remind someone today that “weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
What can I rejoice in today? Make a list.
Matthew 6:21 tells us “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What are some treasures in your life? Where is your fulfillment coming from? Are you chasing after fleeting material possessions or are you seeking after eternal things?
Am I chasing happiness instead of choosing joy?