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.
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
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.
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."
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!
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
Bible & Life