Wasco Tribune - Serving the community since 1970

Pastor's Corner - June 13, 2019

No matter the circumstances, happiness is up to you


“To the person who pleases Him, God gives wisdom,

Knowledge and happiness…” --Ecclesiastes 2:26 ESV

“True happiness... is not attained through self-gratification,

but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” -- Helen Keller


Do you ever tire of hearing people individually or corporately bemoan, “I’m just not happy” or “that just doesn’t make me happy” or even “if you would do this and that I would be a happy person?” As if being happy is the end all to everything in life. It was President Abraham Lincoln who said, “I’ve have found that most people are about as happy as they decide to be!”

This may be a little naïve; however, I am beginning to come to the conclusion that much of our country’s political, social and institutional challenges are stemming from an inordinate emphasis on happiness -- be it corporate, collective or individual. All this political correctness pressure we live under today is leading us to a group of people unable to laugh at their own blunders and shortcomings, and creating folks that look that they have been weaned on a dill pickle. Oh, that is, unless like a spoiled toddler, they get their way.

Helen Keller is truly one of my favorite people of all of history for what she overcame to achieve many accolades, including the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelors degree. She is one person who took what life dealt her and made the best of it. Born healthy, when at about 2½ years of age came down with a mysterious disease that left her deaf and blind. She met Anne Sullivan, a young lady who took the challenge to mentor Helen, and mentor her she did. Helen blossomed.

Knowing this helps us to appreciate the quote for today. For many, happiness is a feeling, and we all should know by now that feelings are at best fickle and ever changing. Should we put our “happiness eggs” in the basket of human feelings and emotions, we can be sure of one thing: many if not all of those eggs will be cracked and broken at the end of each day.

Just as Abe Lincoln said earlier, happiness is an inside job. You see happiness is a decision we make each morning. We either wake up with the resolve to make it a great day in service to others, and no matter the circumstances or we doggedly lift the proverbial wet finger to test the winds and then decide the type of day we will experience. It was Job who in Chapter 3 and verse 25 said, “What I have feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” Believer, this is an admonition that we all need to take to heart because more often than not we suffer from self-fulfilling prophecies.

Another thought Solomon exhorts in Proverbs, 17:10 “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.” All of us experience times of adverse situations; they come and go and are just part of the ebb and flow of life. So, if we count on our feelings of happiness to govern our days, we will spend a good portion of our time in the dregs, won’t we?

Mother Teresa encourages us, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Great advice from the diminutive loving nun of slums of Calcutta -- you see, love is that one emotion that looks outward; it must have an object on which to be poured and it forces us to take our eyes off self-gratification and onto the needs of others. It is only as we invest our lives in the desires, hurts and necessities of others that we find the true meaning of happiness.

Now friend, true happiness does come from pouring the love of Christ out to others, but also begins when we personally receive the finished work of Calvary to our lives and freely accept His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and power.

If you know and trust Christ then you can decide today and every day that it will be one of true happiness – it is your choice!

Jim Neal is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Shafter.


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