Abundant Life

Teaching: Finding Happiness in an Unhappy World

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

Adversity, affliction, pain, and suffering are a part of everyone’s life. With Satan and his evil minions causing problems, the problems we have due to the world being in a fallen state in the first place, the problems that others cause for us, and the problems we cause ourselves due to our own sin and ignorance, suffering is a given until Jesus sets up his kingdom. If we are going to live happy, joyful, productive lives, it is not going to be because we get rid of all affliction and suffering. Rather, it will be because we learn to be happy and joyful in spite of the pains of this life.

Who would not say, “I want to be happy”? Everyone desires this too often evasive feeling. It seems logical that if God created the world for people, and God is love (1 John 4:8b), that everyone would be happy, at least most of the time. Yet true happiness eludes most people, not just sometimes, but throughout most of their lives. Why?

Most people’s first response would be: “Because life is so hard, and there is so much pain and suffering.” It is true that hardship, pain, and suffering make it more difficult to be happy, and everyone will be unhappy at times. Ecclesiastes tells us that in every life there is “a time to weep” and “a time to mourn.” However, it also tells us that there is “a time to laugh” (Eccles. 3:4). If we are ever going to laugh from our heart, and be genuinely happy at least some of the time, there are some basic things that we must understand about happiness, chiefly that it is a by-product, not an end in itself.

Happiness is not something we can achieve by striving for it alone, nor by focusing on it as a goal. If that were the case, we could assume that since there are millions of people who want to be happy, at least some of them would have achieved it and told others how to achieve it too. If millions of people wanted to climb Mt. Everest, for example, many would make it. Why is it that people who strive for happiness are not happy? One of the main reasons is that happiness is a by-product of something else, something meaningful that a person does in his life.

Let us compare happiness to the ordinary housecat. Often, if you want it to come to you so you can hold it, it stays away, sometimes seemingly just out of reach. If you pursue it, it moves away (usually under a piece of furniture where you can see it but not reach it). Eventually you give up trying to hold the cat, and get about doing your work around the house. Shortly you feel something touching your ankle, and lo and behold, the cat, which stayed away when pursued, is now rubbing against your leg, wanting to be picked up.

Happiness is like that housecat. When we pursue it for its own sake, it remains out of reach. For example, many people are surprised to find out how little happiness material things bring. This is an area where our flesh tricks us. We should all know that possessions do not make people happy, because there are so many unhappy wealthy people who can buy whatever they want. As the common proverb says: “Money can’t buy happiness.” In spite of that, our flesh seems to say, “If I just had (whatever), I would be happy.” Although it can be momentarily satisfying to acquire what we thought would make us happy, the feeling does not last long.

Like the housecat, happiness comes when we engage in work and other activities that are meaningful to us. At those times our focus is not on ourselves or our own happiness, but on what we are doing. It is while we are engaged in a meaningful activity that we realize we are happy and enjoying life. Therefore, it is important for us to find meaning in life and the activities we engage in. This is often no small task. God designed life to have meaning, but many people do not find it, and live their lives the way the person who wrote Ecclesiastes started out.

Ecclesiastes 1:2
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

The book of Ecclesiastes contains the story of a person who calls himself “the Teacher,” and who outlines his journey to find meaning in life. He did many and varied things, looking for anything that held inherent meaning. He tried gaining knowledge and wisdom, but discovered “…with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (1:18b). He tried fun and laughter, but concluded it was foolish and accomplished nothing (2:1, 2). He tried wine and alcohol (2:3), accomplishing great tasks (2:4-7), amassing wealth (2:8), entertainment (2:8), and, of course, sex (2:8), but all to no avail. He did not know God, and therefore he correctly understood that his final end, no matter what he achieved or accomplished, was the grave, a hole in the ground, and that eventually he and his activities would be forgotten (2:16). In that light, nothing he did could be truly meaningful, because there was no actual purpose for anything he did. With nothing in life that was meaningful, he came to the point he “hated life” (2:17).

Thankfully, the teacher kept looking for meaning in life, and at some point he had a revelation that set him on the right course.

Ecclesiastes 2:25
for without him [God], who can eat or find enjoyment?

Amen! What the teacher discovered was that the first and most basic step to having meaning in one’s life was to realize that God created his life to have meaning. The dictionary definition of “meaning” is “a purpose or intention.” God intended to create us, that is, He had a purpose for us before we existed. Existence in and of itself does not have meaning, which is why atheists and people who believe that life is nothing more than a series of random “accidents,” cannot find true purpose or meaning. By their own definition, life has no meaning, i.e., no purpose or intention, it is just an accident.

Once the teacher discovered that God had created him with a purpose, a genuine meaning, he began to relate to life differently. He realized that it was not the works he did that had inherent meaning, but rather that it was his doing the work that had meaning. From that point of view, he began to realize that he could find happiness in productive work.

Ecclesiastes 2:24
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.

Notice that the teacher is not looking for happiness (satisfaction) on its own. No, he lives his life (“eats and drinks”), and works, and because he himself has meaning, he brings meaning to what he does, and gets satisfaction and happiness “in” his work. The same holds true for us. We bring the meaning to our work, and because God has created us the way we are, there is some work more meaningful to us than other work. As we engage life like that, thinking of ourselves and our work as having meaning, we find that we are content and happy, without seeking to be happy. This is the “housecat happiness” we discussed earlier.

It is important to make a distinction between happiness and joy. As we use the terms, “happiness” relates more to a feeling of gladness or contentment that is “outside in,” i.e., the meaningful and productive activities a person is doing produces a feeling of gladness, satisfaction, etc. “Joy,” on the other hand, is “inside out.” It is a fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22) that a person experiences as he endeavors to be like Christ and keeps in mind the hope that is in store for him. The hope of healthy bodies on a newly created and wonderful earth never changes, so no matter what a person is doing, or experiencing, he can have joy. It is important to understand that, though we cannot always be happy, we can always have joy. Often joy and happiness occur at the same time, and this is certainly very desirable.

Just as we can always have joy because our basis for it never varies, so too we should always be thankful. We have so much to be thankful for, in fact, the Bible commands us to be thankful (Col. 3:15b). [1] One of the keys to happiness is being thankful no matter what our circumstances are. Attitude has much to do with whether we are happy or not. Certainly there are times when circumstances in our lives make happiness at that moment out of the question. No one should expect to be happy all the time. However, it is not wrong to want as much happiness as possible.

As we look for meaning in our lives, it is helpful to realize that each Christian is uniquely equipped by God to do great things for Him and for other people. Corinthians tells us that each person is placed in the Body of Christ as God wants him to be.

1 Corinthians 12:18
But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

Ephesians says that God has created each person for good works and we are to do whatever good works we can. God has made it possible for you to do good works here and now. In fact God has even prepared us for this.

You can read the rest of the article here.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

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