In this article, Rev Vasudevan writes "God loves me and I enjoy being loved by God; Everything else is background music." Happiness cannot be based on our circumstances. Rev Vasudevan encourages us to have God as our true source of Joy.
All of us want to be happy. We are constantly told not to let silly things steal our happiness. Interestingly, the secular world has started talking about happiness and I find this very fascinating. As an ardent student of the Bible, I look at this phenomenon as a “catching-up” exercise. The Bible will ALWAYS be first. God is always smarter than all of us put together.
Today, I want to talk about Happiness and Joy. The gospel is Good News of great joy and so our joy comes from our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Luke 2, the angels came to the shepherds and gave them the Good News.
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:8)
I find this message to the shepherds very fascinating! There are 3 things that I would like to glean from this passage:
First, it is good news.
Second, it is Good News of great joy.
Third, it is for everybody. For all the people. Everyone is included. No one is excluded.
If there is any reason for us to be joyful, it is primarily because of Jesus Christ, who is the true source of all our joy. Jesus is our joy because of what He did on the cross of Calvary - the fact that He forgave you, the fact that He loves you, the fact that He cares for you, and the fact that all His promises are yes and Amen, the fact that I am forgiven, the fact that I am on the way to heaven, and that I can experience the love and presence of God right here. This, then, is our joy.
So, the Gospel is the Good News of great joy. Sometimes, the word ‘happiness’ is used only when something good happens to us. This is true in one sense. But, the real joy and happiness we are talking about, lies in the truth of the Gospel - that I know him as my Savior - that He cares for me, He loves me and that because of Him I can face tomorrow.
So, we need not wait for anything good to happen all the time to be happy because our joy is truly in Jesus Christ.
How would you describe God? Some would say, “God is love”. Of course they are correct. Some others may say, “God is merciful”. And, of course, they are right too! Psalm 43 is very insightful, particularly when you look at how it describes God. David has this beautiful description in Psalm 43:4,
"Then I will go to the altar of God. To God, my exceeding joy; With the lyre I will praise You, O God, my God!"
The Psalmist experiences God’s presence and says, “He is my exceeding joy ”. One of the things that we have to learn in our walk with God is to find all of our joy and all of our peace in His love. In other words, we need to find our joy in God - the God who is awesome, who is amazing, who loves you. David describes God as His exceeding joy. Yes, God is the source of our joy.
Happiness cannot be based on our circumstances. We should not be led to believe, “If this happens, I will be happy or, if this doesn't happen, I will be happy; If God answers this prayer, I will be happy or if God grants this request, I will be happy and so on”.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, when asked, "why do you preach the Gospel" gave a number of reasons for pursuing his preaching ministry. Finally, he said, “I preach the Gospel so that people may enjoy God.”
In the latter part of Psalms 87:7, the Psalmist (in the words of the singers and the players of flutes) says, “All my springs and sources of joy are in you.”
We need to remind ourselves that the source of real joy and happiness is not in religious activities, not in any performance, and not even in any of the things that I do. But, the source of my joy is in Him. One of the greatest things that I have learnt in my life is to find all my joy in His unconditional love for me. And, so, I can be absolutely content and celebrate this joy - despite what happens around me.
I have greatly cherished this quote: "God loves me and I enjoy being loved by God; Everything else is background music." Isn't this beautiful?
In other words, there is always a celebration within my soul because of his deep love for me. Now, this joy not only changes the way I feel. Rather, it changes the way I live and it changes every aspect of my life. Further, the joy I experience deep within my being will bring health to my body. Emotion and physical well-being are not water tight compartments. What happens to me emotionally or spiritually affects every cell of my body.
Proverbs 17:22 speaks “a joyful heart is a good medicine but a broken spirit dries up the bones”. There is an intrinsic connection between being joyful and staying healthy. So, if I am happy and joyful today, it is like taking medicine that cures. Remember, Paul reminds us, “Rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).
Now, if you and I, as believers, learn to be joyful in Him then our joy need not be based on our circumstances. Our joy needs to be rooted in Him - His love, His promises, His presence and His grace upon our lives. Life, then, can be a continuous celebration of joy and happiness! Amen!
Rev K Vasudevan is a Christian Counsellor based in Bangalore
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash