Happiness

Everyone strives for happiness. Yet, so often it is hard to find. This can be because many people are not quite certain what will make them happy. For some it is having enough food to eat. For others it is having a good job, while many people would be very happy just to have a job! For others still it is getting more money, more possessions and more prestige. And for some, happiness is having a good family that is well-adjusted. For many less fortunate people, happiness is just being well.

However, have you noticed that not everyone who gets their wishes stays happy? Often, happiness is only temporary. It doesn't seem long before people begin to lose their happiness and start searching for it again. For a lot of people, searching for happiness is a life-long but sometimes elusive pursuit.

What does the Bible say about happiness? Solomon, probably the wisest person who has lived on this earth (apart from Jesus) said, "Blessed (happy) is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding". Prov 3:13. It's very hard to dispute this isn't it? When we realise that we have made good decisions based on wisdom and understanding we certainly become happy.

Two other verses provide further perspective for us. Paul said "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances". Philippians 4:11. So often unhappiness is brought about because we are never satisfied. Paul was undoubtedly happy because he accepted his problems as being part of his life. And the other verse was written by James. "As you know, we consider blessed (happy) those who have persevered. ... The Lord is full of compassion and mercy". James 5:11. In other words, happiness can come because we show the commitment to see a task through to its completion. Serving God continually is one such task that will result in long-term happiness.

 

World Turmoil

Where and when will it all end? Thinking people are very concerned about the future of the world. (Many other people try not to think about the future at all and spend a lot of the time in pursuits that take their minds away from the cold, hard realities of the world.) Jesus, when asked by his disciples about turmoil in the world, said "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven." Luke 21:10-11.

Yes, Jesus was initially talking about the events just after his first time on earth. But he was also talking about the days just before his return to the earth. There is no doubt about the fact that we live in the time when nations are battling each other, and when there are famines, pestilences and fearful events on the earth.

But, Jesus was not a negative person. Far from it. He continued, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Luke 21:28. There is reason for great hope because other parts of the Bible tell us that these events will herald Jesus' return and usher in God's Kingdom of peace and righteousness. God, through the prophet Isaiah says, eventually "My people will live in peaceful dwelling-places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest." Isaiah 32:18. Wonderful promise isn't it? No more world turmoil!

 

Suffering

It is often said by people who want to deny the existence of God that a loving God would not allow suffering. Unfortunately, this view shows a lack of understanding of the Bible teaching on love and suffering. Let's go back to the beginning. God created a world that was "very good" Gen 1:31. He gave the first man, Adam, a free reign on what he could do except that he was told not to eat of the fruit of a specific tree. A reasonable direction? Regrettably, Adam (and his wife, Eve) were disobedient. God punished them. Part of their punishment was suffering and death. Read all of Genesis 3 for the details.

The love of God is shown in that He was (and is) prepared to forgive error. This is why He provided His Son Jesus as a sacrifice so that people might overcome suffering and death. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16. In the meantime, people - those who follow God's directions as well as those who don't - suffer and die. The difference is that those who are committed to serving God know that suffering in the present life will be put aside in God's kingdom. The prophet Isaiah said of righteous people that in the kingdom "Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." Isa 35:10.

It's a wonderful prospect isn't it? Everyone suffers at some time in their lives. The suffering may take many forms including illness, bereavement, family difficulties and persecution. Those who accept the principles of God have the hope that they will be helped through those very difficult circumstances. We can take to ourselves the Apostle Paul's conviction in coping with suffering - "I can do everything through him who gives me strength". Philippians 4:13.

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