What do you all reckon is the one thing that we as humans strive for? The one thing that we long for, the one thing that we wish for at night, or thank God (or whatever deity we believe in) at night; the one thing that we believe is of highest importance in this world? Is it a roof over our heads, food on the table, a steady relationship, regular meal times, a bed to sleep in, friends who challenge us, friends who stick up for us no matter what, recognition, adoration, accolades, approval from any and everyone? Is it all of these things, some or one of these, or none of these?
Well all of these things are all fine- and you’re all right. One person may value their home more than any potential relationship they could be in; and that’s fine. Another person could be the total opposite. Yet I believe (and this is my opinion, which could be way different to yours!) that the one thing that unites us all, the one thing that I’d wager that anyone who gladly choose over maybe all of their worldly possessions, is our own happiness. Our own delight, our joy. What it looks like, is different from person to person; yet in the end we’re all the same. We all want the same things- and it’s to be happy in this life. That’s all we want for our children as well and that’s all our parents want for us. Others may show it to us through tough love, which we can translate that to our kids; yet if by the end of life we’re happy, I reckon that that’s all that matters. Yet for some of us chasing after happiness can be futile, and like wandering around in the desert, thinking that we’ve found an oasis, not knowing that it’s actually a mirage, and the real oasis is right in front of us.
Let me explain a bit more to you guys. Because I know all of you are scratching your heads wondering what I’m on about. I mean, we’re happy, right? If you have a great family, a stable job, a steady income, enough time to travel overseas for holidays every once in a while, as well as close bonds with a few friends; life should be pretty sweet, right? Why would some of us be searching for happiness in the wrong places- because we’re all happy…right? Well, I think it’s not all that black and white as we all may think. Sure happiness and joy often are exhibited and displayed in people who have successful and seemingly satisfying lives, yet not every person who ‘has it all together’ on the surface is actually grinning from ear to ear, and laughing because their life is perfect and they are happy. For so long even I associated a smiling person who has boundless energy, as someone who is truly happy. But that’s not the case.
A couple of days ago ABC premiered the TV show A Million Little Things, and while we are set to review the pilot episode in the next few days (and very soon you can read what Jon thinks about the show, and what stood out for him); what resonated with me was the fact that someone who seemed to have the best life possible, thought otherwise and subsequently killed himself. Without warning, just like that. Here today, gone tomorrow. With the drama focusing on the friends of the person who died, and how they themselves can to terms with the loss; the show, while not that popular in the U.S., is still needed in today’s society, as we come to terms with the fact that worldly happiness doesn’t last, unless it isn’t worldly happiness at all.
Happiness based on our raw emotions and the things happening around us or based on our material possessions isn’t really happiness. Sure you can look happy, but if it’s not grounded, rooted in something real and tangible and unwavering, then at the first sign of adversity and other hurdles; happiness and joy can come crashing down. If our mood is based on our current situations, well…congratulations, each one of us has bipolar disorder! You all may laugh all you want at that comment, but I’m so serious. As each one of us all obviously do not exhibit 24/7 signs of bipolar disorder, the conclusion arises, that all of us most of the time are happy for an extended period of time, or sad for an extended period of time or ___(insert whatever feeling you may have) for another extended period of time. We’re not as fickle as the tides on the ocean, which must mean that our happiness is rooted in something that doesn’t change… or maybe we’ve gotten real good at hiding the times when we’re not happy, masquerading it as fake happiness. How much are you willing to bet the most of us are like the latter most of the time instead of the former?
While we are all searching for our thrill, something to make us feel alive, something to make us smile, laugh, feel something real; I reckon the more and more we come to realise that we can’t find our happiness in the things of this world, or even in our sturdiest relationship. People are people, so they hurt us and betray us. Bodies grow older, our legs and arms fail us, and soon we’re left with sickness we can’t even imagine. What then? Where is our happiness then? The other week millions of people from around the world congregated together in Penrith Sydney NSW, Australia for a psychedelic electronic drug filled concert, and this high-profile event resulted in many injuries and a few lives lost. Someone I knew was present at the event, and this whole thing made me stop and think. Why would people want to go to a concert like this, and subject themselves to such life-and-death situations, when they’re grounded/satisfied/content/at peace/happy? Unless they’re consciously or subconsciously not…
The pursuit of happiness can last a long time. I reckon if you look back all throughout history, quite a lot of people have tried to find out how to be truly happy, but only some have found a peace that transcends our fickle emotions. Something based on the eternal. While some of us may not be religious or spiritual, or even believe in the existence of a God to begin with, we all can’t deny that true happiness despite negative circumstances is something that we all need to strive for- and if it is found in God, then that is something that the agnostic or the atheist needs to investigate further. But as a Christian, I firmly believe that true happiness isn’t based in this world but rather on Jesus and His love for each one of us, which never fades. But if we’ve forgotten this fact, if we’re running in the desert thinking we’re at the oasis when we’re at the mirage; how do we find our way?
One of the albums that has come to my mind over the past day when I’ve pondered over the pilot episode of A Million Little Things in my head, is The Cutting Edge 1&2 and 3&4 from Delirious?. It was way back in the mid-90’s, back when the band weren’t official, weren’t signed yet. Back when the band was trying to just get by. You’d think an independent album made in those days wouldn’t be as well produced or even as vocally passionate, then if they were signed and recorded an album through a label. Yet what I have realised is that songs like “I Found Jesus”, “Shout To The North”, “Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble”, “I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever”, “The Happy Song”, “Lead Me”, “The Message Of The Cross”, “Louder Than The Radio”, “Coming Back”, “Find Me In The River”, “I’m Not Ashamed”, and “Obsession” are some of the most authentic, vibrant, compelling, and passionate Delirious? songs ever. Why would that be so, then, if it was recorded before the beginning, back when the band was still in a state of flux? Why was it that these songs still sounded as if it were recorded by men who knew their mission, their purpose and their calling? It was…because they did. They knew who they were, they knew their identity, they knew they were sons and daughters in Christ, and they knew that their happiness ultimately did not rely on whether they were signed or not, or any other thing in this world. Martin Smith and his friends knew that because of Jesus, their lives were changed and never the same- they were now alive in Him; and that is one reason to be happy. Delirious? were fixing their eyes on the Author and Perfector of our faith, and as a result what they should’ve felt at the moment didn’t dictate what they actually did feel which was indeed joy unspeakable.
I’m not saying that we all need to go on a spiritual retreat, hold hands and say ‘kumbaya’ and all will be well, and we’ll all be happy together forever- no, not by any means. I also do not mean that we should form a band and sing about happiness (unless we feel like it’s our calling. In fact the main point of tonight’s post is this. That for us to be truly happy, and I mean truly happy in spite of our situations and circumstances, we need to remember that our circumstances should not dictate how we feel; but rather what Jesus has done on the cross 2000+ years ago, needs to. As I mentioned earlier in another of my posts a few weeks ago where I reviewed Building 429’s album Live The Journey and spoke about “Joy Unspeakable”; we need to remember that our trials and tribulations are only temporary. They’re not forever. In fact (and I will quote here); [we are encouraged] to have joy unspeakable in all circumstances, yes even in our trials and tribulations and our suffering. It’s a crazy idea, but because pure joy in my opinion is based on an eternal perspective in the sense that Jesus is with us and we need not fear even if our circumstances say otherwise, rather than conditional happiness based on our feelings which change as often as the weather; having joy in the midst of suffering (which is highlighted in James 1:2-4!), makes sense as joy isn’t dictated by circumstances but by our relationship with Jesus…even if God isn’t working yet, the fact that we know that He will should provide comfort as we speak joy into our lives- even joy we’re not feeling at the moment but will someday. Most of the time for most of us, our feelings of joy are dependent on the current situation but that should not be the case. Jesus is the One who brings us undignified joy, and if the evidence points to that being the case, shouldn’t those of us who are non-believers ought to investigate these claims?
Let us all look in the mirror. Do you feel joyful or happy? If not, why not? How about we challenge ourselves to try to find the joy in the midst of the suffering, and let us rely on God to provide us the true happiness we need in order not to feel weighed down by the pressures of life, but instead grateful that He who knew no sin, became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.
Until next time guys! Have a good week, and watch A Million Little Things on ABC every Wednesday!