What About My Right to Pursue Happiness?

My husband doesn’t always make me happy. If you’ve been married longer than thirty minutes, chances are yours doesn’t always make you happy either. There are times when my children also do things that make happiness a challenge. Are you a parent of at least one child who has pooped at least one dirty diaper so far? Then you know what I mean. And my job? My job has its moments, too. Even though I have a great job, there are plenty of times when I am not happy about my job.  And I can really get turned sideways when my car won’t start, or I can’t find my phone or my keys, or my cat puts just one more scratch on my leather sofa. (I’ve started calling my sofa distressed. If I’m going to be distressed about it, it should be distressed, too.) I told my husband leather was a bad idea with cats. See?

There are plenty of things that make me not happy. Every day. Moment by moment there is the potential for something or someone to come my way and steal my happiness right out from under me

I should be happy. I have the right to be happy. The forefathers of this great country of ours said so in the Declaration of Independence. Have you read it? I have. Those men were geniuses. According to the men who founded this country, I have the right, the God given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I can pursue happiness, and no one can tell me I can’t. It’s in the Declaration.

I have the right to pursue things that make me happy. Should those things suddenly stop making me happy, then I have the right to pursue something else. Someone else. Somewhere else.

What the forefathers forgot to mention in the Declaration, is while we can pursue happiness, it is an awfully hard thing to catch. Just when we think we have it in our grasp… it slips through our fingers and it vanishes right before our eyes. We are left standing there staring at something we had pursued, sure it would make us happy, only to find that it doesn’t, somehow, make us happy after all. But not to worry, before too long, we are off pursuing something else with the same promise of happiness.

It’s all so tiring, isn’t it? I’m tired just writing about it. Just like the saying, “time heals all wounds” is a lie from the enemy, so is the pursuit of happiness. Think about it. There is nowhere in the Scriptures that tells us to pursue happiness. Righteousness, now we are told to pursue righteousness. Wisdom. We definitely are told to seek wisdom. Holiness. Yep. Holiness is definitely in there. But happiness? Nope. Not once.

We do not have the right to be happy. We are not encouraged to pursue it. At all. Actually, we are cautioned about pursuing things that are only temporal. We are encouraged to seek things that are eternal. Like righteousness, wisdom, and holiness.

So what about being happy? Doesn’t God want us to be happy? What father doesn’t want his kids to be happy? I mean, when you ask most parents what they want most for their children, nine times out of ten, parents will say they want their kids to be happy. They want their kids to do what makes them happy.

The problem with that is that what makes us happy today, doesn’t always make us happy tomorrow. We are a fickle species.

It’s not Matthew’s job to make me happy. It’s not your husband’s job to make you happy either. Nor is it our children’s job, or our job’s job, or our friend’s, or parent’s or our circumstance’s.

Well meaning people who kind of get it even will say it’s our own job to make ourselves happy.

That’s wrong, too. How can you possibly manufacture your own happiness? Where do those ingredients come from?

What the Bible does say about this matter is this. We are to pursue joy. For the believer, we have a joy factory within us. We have the ability, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to crank out an endless supply of the stuff. And here’s the kicker. Joy is not dependent upon our circumstances. It isn’t dependent on what our husband does or doesn’t do, how our kids behave, what happens on the job, or anything like that.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

God can fill us up with joy. And not only that, with peace! In the midst of things that should make us unhappy, we can, instead, have joy. And peace! And hope! We can be filled with it all.

You can look it up if you want to, but I promise that verse 14 does not go on to say, “if things are going the way you wanted them to go.”

So who do you need to let off the hook today? Who are you blaming for your unhappiness? Who is having to carry that burden for you? Trade in happiness for joy. Happiness is fleeting, but joy can abound. Paul said that no matter his situation, he had learned to be joyful. He wrote that verse from a prison cell. Things were not going well for Paul at that time, and yet he had learned the secret to contentment. It’s Joy.

Joy came to the world. It’s still here. It’s in the hearts of everyone who has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Let’s stop looking for outward things to make us happy and start tapping into that well. Give up your right to pursue happiness, and instead choose joy. It will change everything.

So what do you think?

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