The Secret of Happiness

Are you happy? Not necessarily at this precise moment in time, but would you describe your life in general as happy? I have met many miserable people, but have yet to meet anyone who genuinely wants to be unhappy. Every day we make decisions, big and small, in the hope that the result will make us happy, whether we are conscious of this or not.

Given the significance of happiness in our lives you may be interested to learn that researchers from Harvard University have conducted a 75 year, longitudinal study into happiness. The research, known as the Grant and Glueck Studies, began in the late 1930’s with 268 Harvard students. A few years later 456 disadvantaged youths from inner city Boston were added to the study. These people have been interviewed at regular intervals throughout their lives to measure the happiness as their lives have unfolded.

The headline discovery has been that happiness does not depend upon wealth, social position, career progression or lack of it. Rather ‘happiness comes from choosing to be happy with whatever you do, strengthening your closest relationships and taking care of yourself physically, financially and emotionally.’ I am not sure where I read it first but the statement ‘happiness comes from wanting what you have rather than having what you want’ seems to sum up the first part of the study’s findings.

These findings are not as new and as ground breaking as they might seem at first.  Around AD 46 the Apostle Paul wrote ‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.’ He had found that true happiness and contentment was not based upon his physical circumstances or health. If you read the rest of his writings you will discover that the ultimate source of Paul’s contentment was the security of knowing that his life was in Christ.

I wish that I could say that every follower of Christ was as happy and content as Paul was. Sadly many Christians are as miserable as anyone else. However I find that when people learn to fully put their trust in Jesus Christ they become happier than they would be without him.

If you would like to find out more then why not check it out for yourself and come and join us.

 

This blog post featured in the May 2016 edition of Hook Focus

More Than Conquerors

When I was a boy I sang in a church choir. One of the perks of the job was to sing at weddings on a Saturday afternoon, for which we would get paid. If you were lucky there would be 2 or even 3 weddings in the afternoon. Even luckier if a full choir couldn’t be raised as we would then share the wages of those who were missing. It was sat in the choir stalls that I learned Romans 8:28 (And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose) as this was one of the vicar’s favourite texts for the wedding sermon.

Indeed this is a favourite verse for many Christians, bringing comfort through all kinds of trials in life. Some people seem to think that it means that things will get better in this life. However if you read the passage around it (v18-39) it is clear that Paul never envisaged that following Christ would result in an easy life. The good that he speaks about in verse 28 is only fully realised in our eternal destiny.

Paul’s own experience was hardship. He was beaten, whipped and stoned for following Christ. He was shipwrecked and adrift in the open sea. He was in danger from his fellow Jews, and from Gentiles, in the city, in the country, at sea and from false believers. He knew hunger and thirst, went without food and been cold and naked. Yet despite all these hardships he could say “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”

Paul’s confidence was based in the promise that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. I don’t know all the challenges that you are facing at the moment. I don’t know whether your circumstances will get better or whether they will get worse. I do know however that your circumstances are covered by Romans 8:38-39 where Paul says: ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

We too can be more than conquerors if we learn to take our eyes off our circumstances and place our confidence in the love of God knowing that nothing, not even death, can separate us from Him.

 

This blog post featured in the May 2016 edition of Lifelines