The Secret to Happiness
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11-12
At the gym, we’re in the middle of a three-week competition and last week, I did really well, which made me feel good. At this week’s workout I may do terrible, in which case, I’ll feel bad. On a different note, my daughter flew in for spring break yesterday, so, I’m happy. Her time at home will pass too quickly though, and soon I’ll be dropping her off at the airport, which will make me sad. On yet another subject, someone at work recently paid me a compliment as a physician, which made me feel pretty good about myself until I learned that a patient filed a complaint against me, saying I was rude. That made me feel terrible.
My point is that on any given day, I experience circumstances that make me feel a multitude of emotions, both good and bad. When I depend on my natural, impulsive feelings to determine my overall mood, I’m on an emotional rollercoaster. When, however, I look past my circumstances, finding my life, purpose, and meaning in my relationship with God, I experience contentment despite life’s circumstances.
This was Paul’s message in today’s passage. In it, he said that he’d learned the secret of finding contentment in all things. Paul knew hardship. He experienced shipwrecks, arrest, imprisonment, beatings, and was eventually killed for his faith. Even when he talked about death though, Paul said he saw it simply as an opportunity to live with God. Paul had a joy that this world could not take away because his joy lay only in his relationship with the father.
This is the secret to true happiness – Finding our joy, purpose, and meaning in an intensely real relationship with God. When we rely on circumstance to determine our overall mood, we’re emotional wrecks. Life is hard. We’ll only know true contentment when we realize it comes, not from our unstable circumstances, but rather from knowing the one who holds our circumstances in his hands and whose love for us is unchangeable.
The problem, and the reason we don’t experience the joy of God, is that we often seek gratification in unstable, unreliable sources. Living in an intimate relationship with God, experiencing his love and peace, requires us to continually turn from our path to follow God’s. Life and joy are waiting for us, but if we want those things, daily we must, like Paul, seek them only in our relationship with the father.