In our series titled “Spiritual Black Holes,” we have sounded the alarm about thoughts, actions, or mindsets that have the potential of derailing our faith. For every counterfeit snare, God has an authentic experience for us.
Today’s spiritual black hole may come as a shock to you. When we think about black holes, we might think about blatantly negative things. But that’s what makes them so deceptive and dangerous.
Our final spiritual black hole is happiness. Now, there is nothing wrong with being happy, and happiness is not a sin.
Yet, just like money is not the root of all evil, it’s a love for money that is, it’s an addiction to happiness that can become a trap for us.
Unfortunately, life isn’t always happy. Therefore, we must learn how to mourn and lean into God when life is unkind.
I recently read a study that revealed the top 10 reasons people engage with social media, all of which fall under the category of pleasure/happiness.
Our obsession with happiness will lead us to measure every interaction and determine its value based on whether someone or something makes me happy.
- If my work doesn’t make me feel happy, I won’t work as hard or just quit.
- If my marriage doesn’t make me happy, I’ll find another.
- If my church doesn’t make me feel happy, I’ll find another one that does.
Jesus never promised happiness in this life, but He did promise that we would experience tribulations, John 16:33. “Adversity is the Christian’s University.” We learn far more from adversity than in any other season in life.
We must learn how to manage and persevere hard times, not simply jump from one happy situation to another.
In Ecclesiastes 2, King Solomon describes an experiment where he dedicated himself to pursue happiness at every level of life, to find meaning and fulfillment.
- He denied himself of nothing his eyes desired.
- He dedicated himself to great building projects.
- He pursued technological advancements and developed aqueducts, which were critical in the desert.
- He hired an abundance of servants to work for him.
- He accumulated cattle, gold, and silver beyond measure.
Yet, in the end, it did not satisfy him. He described it as “striving after the wind.” It provided no substantial or lasting fulfillment.
This experiment could be labeled as “the Gospel of selfishness.”
In these 11 verses, the pronoun “I,” or something similar, was used 35 times to describe his pursuit. This reveals something significant about chasinghappiness: It’s a life centered around me!
The word happy derives from the word happenstance. Webster’s dictionary defines happenstance as a circumstance, especially that is due to chance.
The happiness letdown can quickly turn to sadness, provoking our desire to find happiness. And that’s the problem with happiness; it’s temperamental. Happiness evaporates as soon as the circumstances turn negative.
Pursuing happiness requires finding or creating circumstances that keep me happy. That can be exhausting and expensive. It is an unreasonable and unsustainable pursuit and requires everyone around me to contribute to an environment where I’m happy.
Pursuing happiness is a counterfeit of the joy God wants to give you! Joy and happiness are fundamentally different, although their fruit may overlap.
Joy is independent of our circumstances. The source is not contingent on anyone but God.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy…” Romans 15:13
“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart….” Jeremiah 15:16
“You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy…” Isaiah 9:3
“So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing.” Psalm 105:43
Joy lives where happiness can’t tread. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, which confirms that God is the source. Joy is not simply hilarity but an assurance that what we see or feel is not final.
Joy must be equally pursued. It’s not automatic. Psalm 16:11 reveals that “in your presence there is fullness of joy.” We enter into His presence through worship, prayer, and meditating on scripture.
God is the source of our joy and the one who gives it no matter the circumstances. Enjoy happiness but don’t get caught in the trap of needing to be happy at all times, at all costs.