We aren’t supposed to be happy all the time. That is not an objective we should pursue. What we should strive for is “CONTENTMENT!” -Steve Saint
Getting into an airplane and being able to climb up to the clouds is an exhilarating experience. That is especially true on a damp drizzly day. Ginny’s and my daughter Stephenie complained about the depressing weather with low ceilings that dripped water one day. I had just been granted my instrument endorsement to my pilot’s license and wanted to test my ability to fly in bad weather so I whisked our daughter off to the airport. We took off into the dark gray overcast which swallowed us up about 30 seconds after we got airborne. But less than a minute later we shot out of the dreary dark clouds into bright sunshine. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, not above us anyway. As Stephie and I looked down the ominous clouds below now appeared to be an unblemished white and looked like a sea of fresh egg-white frosting spread over the world as far as we could see in all directions.
What a difference a mere 2,000 feet made that day. Stephenie begged me to just keep flying until the weather cleared up – so we could go on being “happy”. But my primary objective in flying that day was to build experience flying in bad weather so I could get where I needed to go when the weather down low was lousy. Learning to deal with inclement weather became my ticket to clear skies above.
As a young teenager, I actually believed that it was not only possible but admirable to avoid drizzly, dreary and painful times in life. “I’m so happy and here’s the reason why, Jesus took my burdens all away – hey – now I’m singing as the days go by, Jesus took my burdens all away.” Those lyrics of a song we were taught when I was a boy are, as president Trump often remarked during his presidential debates in 2016, “Not True! Not True!”
First of all, the Bible doesn’t teach that life should be “happy.” Nor does the Bible teach that “Jesus takes our burdens all away.” GOD did not even do that for King David who was “a man after His own heart.” Just look at some of David’s poems like Psalm 13. And look at the book of Job. Not only did God not take all of Job’s burdens away, He actually initiated the conversation with Satan that led to Job’s terrible suffering.
Job 1:8-11 (NLT) reads, “Then the LORD asked Satan, ‘Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the LORD, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
In North America we have almost made being happy synonymous with being spiritual. That is not Biblical.
In North America we have almost made being happy synonymous with being spiritual. That is not Biblical. Was Paul happy? In Acts chapter 20 to 28, it points out that he was kidnapped, beaten, arrested many times, sued, interrogated, ridiculed, ignored, shipwrecked, bitten by a viper and most likely martyred because of his evangelism work. And Paul said the Holy Spirit told him he would suffer because of the work God called him to do.
We aren’t supposed to be happy all the time. That is not an objective we should pursue. What we should strive for is “CONTENTMENT!”
In a letter, Paul wrote to his friend Timothy and warned against trying to become wealthy by accumulating money and possessions. He pointed out that none of us brought anything into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave. That reminds me of the story told about the death of a fabulously wealthy tycoon. When he died people all over the country were wondering how much money he left behind. A man who knew him answered the question. “He left it all!”
In his letter, Paul says (1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT)) “…godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” The only sure way to get rich quick is to be content with what we have! Paul goes on, “After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.”
I saw a little poem on a high school bulletin board a long time ago. I think this little poem syncs well with what Paul wrote. It would make a good motto for us in this new year. The poem read, “When you were born you cried and the world smiled. Live your life so that when you die you will smile, and the world will cry. “