Everybody wants to be happy. In fact, there may be more emphasis in our society right now than ever before on finding happiness. There’s a lot of focus on having a job you can be happy with. Some people move to different locations in the pursuit of happiness. Wives leave husbands and husbands leave wives because they’re just not happy. Teenagers are committing suicide at a staggering rate because they’re unhappy. Happiness seems to be elusive to many people. But a profound question should be, “Where do you look for happiness?”
I wonder if a lot of people really understand what it is to be happy. You don’t have to be jumping up and down, giggling and clapping your hands to be happy. I remember visiting one of my sons in Nashville while he was in college. We went to a local restaurant, ordered dinner and sat and talked. I have no idea what all we talked about, probably nothing of earth shattering importance. At some point somebody in management came to our table, apologized for our meal taking so long and informed us that dessert of our choice would be on the house! We both were surprised and a bit stunned. Neither of us had noticed that it had been an unusually long time since we had ordered. It had been a long time since we’d been together, and we were just happy to be able to visit with one another and talk. Getting a free dessert of our choice also made us happy, but that was just icing on the cake (pardon the play on words). We were already happy!
I think some people get excitement mixed up with happiness. If they’re not about to do something exciting, or just coming down from some high, they think they’re unhappy. There’s nothing exciting about cleaning house or doing laundry. Do you know any mother who gets her biggest charge in life out of mopping a floor? But if she’s focused on the big picture of building a home and raising her children, she can be happy even mopping floors. She realizes that it’s just part of having a good, loving, stable, happy home. And what guy breaks into a big grin at the prospect of getting up at 6 AM every day and going to work with some of the rudest, crudest, most unappreciative people in the world? But that doesn’t mean he’s basically not happy. In fact, if his head’s on straight he’s happy to have a job to go to.
Jesus had just given a lesson on humility, attitude and serving one another by personally washing the feet of each of the twelve apostles (Jn. 13:4-16). He then stated, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (vs. 17 KJV). The real happiness is not in washing someone’s feet. It’s in living the life of a faithful, dedicated Christian. True happiness is understanding who you are and what you’re about and knowing that your life has real purpose. A Christian can find happiness in serving others in ways that make them happy.
A Christian can be happy in the big picture of his life, regardless of the peripheral details. He knows that this life is not all there is. He knows that happiness here is temporary, but he can be happy even here because he knows he’s going to a place of eternal happiness. Keep that in the back of your mind, and you can maintain an abiding happiness when most people are groping around for some vague, elusive, fleeting happiness. Look for true happiness in the right place-
Gary L. Hutchens