If we have learned nothing else from our culture telling us what we should do to be happy, we have learned this: It is just not true.
If we spend time examining the hows and whats of worldly happiness, we end up realizing what happiness is not.
Prior to becoming a Christian, I already knew the answer was not in the world.
My mother reminded me of that all the time.
I knew it wasn’t in my sibling’s world of hedonism and drinking and partying.
I tried it (a lot) and it didn’t bring any lasting satisfaction.
I knew it wasn’t in the pursuit of riches.
My siblings did that as well and all it seemed to add was worry and stress.
I knew it wasn’t in my world, limited as it was at eighteen years old.
So I spent a lot of time wondering where it was.
In High School, I had a few Christian friends who were sensitive to my search and gave some wise counsel.
But like most teenagers, I fell back into my default mode… eat, drink and be merry because it really doesn’t matter.
After my first year of college, everything changed…
I became a Christian.
My whole outlook changed.
My world view went from me to He.
But in my heart I still wanted to do something in my life… to be a somebody.
But how does one balance the desire for success with God’s measure of “success?”
How does that work in God’s world?
In Luke 14:11, we have one of the most confusing verses in the Bible.
Why is it confusing?
Because it is a paradox.
A paradox is a statement that seemingly contradicts itself.
In a sense a paradox promotes two opposite statements as both being true.
We have a different paradigm to follow, given to us by God in His Word.
We could call it the divine paradox.
Jesus says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Do you see the paradox?
How does one become greater when one becomes smaller.
It is like the saying, “sometimes less is more.”
In God’s economy, if we want to be great, we must learn to be humble.
If we want self-fulfilment, we should seek the fulfilment of others.
Regarding this divine paradox, Malcolm Muggeridge pointed out, “Where, then, does happiness lie? In forgetfulness, not indulgence, of self. In escape from sensual appetites, not in their satisfaction.”
The way to happiness is sadness.
By that I mean we are sad over our sinful state, so we turn to God, ask for His forgiveness, and enter into a relationship with Him.
Jesus gave us the beautiful beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
Another way to translate this would be, “Oh how happy are the unhappy.”
There is no greater example of this upside down life than Jesus Christ Himself.
He humbled Himself to the cross and in the end was exalted above all.
So where are we searching for our happiness?
Is it in the pleasures this world has to offer?
Or are we finding it in our relationship with Jesus and giving ourselves away to bless others?
We want to find our happiness and our joy in the right place, or more specifically, in the right person, which is God.
As we come to know and walk with Him, we will find something better than happiness, and that is joy.
We will find joy in our circumstances, regardless of what they are.