When Will You Be Happy?
Are you happy? If you are, congratulations! But may I ask what’s making you happy? How long do you think your happiness will last? And if you are not happy, why not? What will make you happy? When do you think you’ll finally be happy?
Such questions presuppose what we’re longing for isn’t just a moment of happiness but a more permanent state of happiness. We all have experienced some moments of happiness. But how many of us can confidently say we have a happy life? Why is happiness so elusive?
There’s a conflicting dynamic to our longing for happiness. Happiness is a feeling of euphoria. We know how feelings are fleeting and fickle. They change hundreds of times a day because they’re our visceral reactions to what happens to us and/or how we perceive them. Life is in constant flux. We can go from a state of well-being to a state of panic in an instant. All it takes is a phone call from the doctor’s office or a serious accident or some inconsiderate words from a trusted friend, etc. As our situations change, so do our feelings.
But we want our happiness to last, not to tantalize us with a brief taste of it and go away. No wonder happiness eludes us like a mirage!
It’s obvious that, if our happiness depends on our external circumstances, which constantly shift and change, our experience of happiness will also be short-lived and volatile. Our happiness must be anchored in something more lasting and permanent than the constantly shifting state of our affairs and minds. But what?
We have a saying like, “Happiness is not a goal...; it's a by-product of a life well-lived” (Eleanor Roosevelt). Sounds right? But the question is how well we must live to be happy. We all live with many regrets. When someone says he has no regrets, do you believe him? How would you feel if he is someone who hurt you repeatedly and badly?
Or we have a saying like this: “It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it” (Dale Carnegie). This sounds right, too. Our mind is a powerful faculty: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven…” (John Milton, “Paradise Lost”). This rings true, doesn’t it? But does it make any difference that these words were uttered by Satan after he was cast out of heaven and woke up in hell without his former glory? It is a valiant statement of defiance. Our mind can make even hell more bearable. But can our mind change hell into heaven with its power? We must admit there’s a difference between what actually happens out there and what we perceive through our sensory organs and mind. Isn’t there a point when our optimism turns into self-delusion?
Then, what can be the anchor for lasting happiness? The Bible claims that only God can; He alone transcends all the vicissitudes of life. Our longing for lasting happiness is not something we hope against hope; it’s what God put in our souls, along with the ability to know happiness. As the God of eternal happiness, He desires us to share in it.
But we have foolishly rejected Him: “they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters [lasting happiness], and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).
Does your longing for happiness feel like a bottomless pit, a tomorrow that’s always a day away? Return to God, the Fountain of true, everlasting happiness. The way back is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). He laid down His life to remove the obstacle of sin, granting forgive-ness to all those who trust Him; guilty souls cannot be happy. When you put your trust in Him, you’ll begin to taste God’s eternal happiness until the fullness of happiness will be yours forever in heaven: “The streams on earth I’ve tasted/ More deep I’ll drink above.”