E39: Is it possible to be happy always?
PODCAST: How should happiness even be defined?
Is finding happiness in life something that we should be concerned with? Or does that inevitably follow when other things in our life are in place? This week Eunice and Kathy weigh in on this topic and come to the conclusion that it depends on what your definition of happiness is. It’s not necessary to have finding happiness in life as a goal in itself, but when your goal is complete confidence and trust in God, then you will see a very good outcome.
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 39: Is it possible to always be happy?
This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life.
Eunice: Welcome to this episode of “Living the Gospel!” It’s Eunice here, and Kathy.
Kathy: Hi everyone!
Eunice: So, today we’re going to talk about …
Kathy: We’re going to talk about happiness, which can be a bit of a controversial topic to talk about as Christians, right? And to be honest, going into recording this, I’ve been a little bit apprehensive because I do not want to get it wrong. And I always pray before we start a podcast, but I feel like I’ve been praying a little extra for this one, that we can get it right. So, first of all, I think we should just make it clear that when we’re talking about happiness, we’re not talking about a sort of self-serving and egocentric happiness to make sure that I always feel good and have the things I want. And, you know, Satan kind of tries to make us think that if we get what we want, when we want it and how we want it, then we’ll be happy. That if things go my way, then that’s happiness, right?
Eunice: Right. And, the truth is that I think everyone has different things that make them happy, in a way.
Kathy: Right, different ideas about what …
Eunice: For some people it’s family, for some people it’s food, like me.
Kathy: We’re back to this again?
Eunice: And, different things, you know. So, you can’t really define happiness in that way because it’s going to be going up and down and no one can really tell you how to be happy because if you say it in the egocentric happiness way, it’s very personal.
Kathy: Right, happiness is a personal thing for each person.
Eunice: But, Aksel Smith writes this in one of his articles about the fruit of the spirit, joy, and he says, “We shall not pursue joy as a treasure in and of itself; joy is the mind’s pleasure over that which has been obtained. Therefore, we shall not pursue joy; on the contrary, we are to pursue the things that are pleasing to God, and this will give us joy.”
Kathy: Right. So, we’re not saying, you know, go out and search for happiness and try to find …
Eunice: … happiness, like the happiness as itself, right?
Kathy: But it’s written in one place to “Rejoice always,” and how can we do that? It’s that joy we get, as he wrote here, that if we pursue the things that are pleasing to God, then we get joy. And then we can rejoice always. But if you think of happiness as a feeling, then what we just talked about, about joy, doesn’t really make sense, right? But it’s written, actually, in Psalm 146:5, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” So, happy is he who has God. And, I just thought about it, I was thinking about this this morning and I thought, can you imagine not having this? Not having this knowledge that I have God for my help and not having that knowledge that the Lord is my hope? Going through hard times without knowing that the greatest power in the universe has me in the palm of His hands?
Eunice: Because, one thing is that God – He doesn’t change, and He’s always there.
Eunice: And in a way, that is that solid anchor that, no matter what happens in my life, I know that He’s there for me.
Eunice: And I think in that way, then you can tag a few other words to happiness. In a way, safety. In a way, peace.
Eunice: Assurance and comfort, and all these … I think when people are saying that everyone in the world is looking for happiness, I think they’re actually looking for all these things. This assurance and security in life. Peace. And they’re looking for all these things, but then you tag the word “happiness” to it because, you know, this leads to happiness, right? So, it comes down to solid trust that God loves me and He’s looking after me. And it doesn’t come naturally; you have to believe that that’s what it is when things happen.
Kathy: Obviously you’re not going to feel happy when you going through painful and traumatic things, right? And things do happen to us, we are in this world and things happen, like we experience grief and loss and sorrow and things happen, right? And you’re not going to feel this feeling of happiness and no one is suggesting that you should.
Eunice: Yeah, we’re allowed to grieve, and we’re allowed to feel sad …
Kathy: … and sorrowful. And it actually says about Jesus Himself that He was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, right? But underneath all of that, we have this solid foundation that God is with us and God is looking after us, right? So, we’re not living our life on the basis of our feelings, but on the basis of that faith that we have, that God is with us.
Eunice: Because if you think about it, by nature our feelings – they’re very dependent on outward elements
Eunice: If someone praises you, you can feel happy all day going through that moment in your head. If it’s the opposite and, you know, you have this feeling that this this person just does not really like you, and then that goes around your head all day.
Kathy: Yeah, it doesn’t feel good. I think that we all know how that feels.
Eunice: And then if you tag your happiness based on these outward things then it’s going to go up and down, up and down.
Kathy: Yeah. But if I’m holding unshakably fast to God’s word and that’s my foundation and I’m obedient to do what’s written there, no matter how I feel, then I’m never going to come out of the rest that I get from that, right?
Eunice: For example, if I hold on to that word, if I hold onto living before God’s face, then right away, I’m not as worried about what people are thinking about me. I have that close connection with Him. And the feelings might go up and down, I mean I still notice what people think about me or whatever, you know? But my peace inside is not based on that.
Kathy: And there’s a battle that it takes to get there, right?
Eunice: Of course.
Kathy: It doesn’t come just like that, but that’s what we fight for, that’s what we work for.
Eunice: So, happiness shouldn’t be confused with pleasure, like enjoyment or satisfaction derived from following our selfish desires.
Kathy: Right, and that goes back to kind of to what we said in the beginning. I think for me, the best explanation we can get here is what’s written about Jesus in Hebrews 1:9. It says, “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” So that oil of gladness …
Eunice: … that was God’s good pleasure over His life because He loved righteousness and hated lawlessness.
Kathy: Right, and that love of righteousness and hate for lawlessness divides between my feelings and my spirit, right? Like, my feelings that want to go one way and my spirit that wants to follow God and live according to His word.
Eunice: The choice I make.
Kathy: The choice I make, exactly.
Eunice: And then God’s good pleasure has to come over you. We talked about before about God’s laws of life, He has to bless someone who seeking to do His will.
Kathy: Yeah, exactly. That’s not a question – will it happen or won’t it?
Eunice: Yeah, so God’s good pleasure over your life leads to rest and peace because you know you’re doing the right thing.
Kathy: You’re doing his will.
Eunice: Yeah. And it’s a real security when, for example, people might have some opinions and different things, but then you know, “Okay, I’m doing God’s will!” And that is what I can hold onto. And then that leads back to it not just being happiness, but peace, security, insurance.
Kathy: And when we get victory over sin, that brings us genuine gladness in our hearts, right?
Eunice: There’s this one very interesting article on our website written by Øyvind Johnson and its title is, “What is the opposite of joy?” And then writes about how the opposite of joy actually isn’t sorrow; it’s sin! The opposite of joy is sin because sin brings unhappiness. You can think about that, it’s unrest, it’s all these different things. So, to conquer and get victory over sin, like you said, brings this joy! And if you think about all the things that would bring a human out of rest, for example being in a situation where you just are so irritated inside, that doesn’t bring rest. You feel all these things in your flesh.
Kathy: Yeah. We have this article on our website called, “Are Christians always supposed to be happy?” and there are a few examples at the end of this article about what it means to be genuinely glad. “Being able to love in a situation that in former times caused offense, bitterness, or wrath brings genuine gladness into the heart.”
Eunice: “Being able to be at peace in a situation that in the past would have caused anxiety, fear, and turmoil brings genuine gladness into the heart.”
Kathy: Of course! The difference between this feeling of … You know how terrible that feels – anxiety and that fear, and that stuff inside.
Kathy: It feels terrible! But to be able to overcome that, to get victory over that, and feel peace, how’s that not going to make you joyful, right?
Eunice: “Being able to serve and give when we used to be full of laziness and selfishness brings genuine gladness into the heart.” And that goes back to, you know, being free from your selfish desires!
Kathy: And it’s interesting, because by nature, with a human understanding, we think to ourselves, getting my own way, my selfish desires, that’s going to bring me happiness, right? But that doesn’t.
Eunice: It’s an illusion.
Kathy: It is a delusion, but when I’m able to serve and give …
Eunice: … without expecting anything in return and really actually, genuinely wanting to do it, you know?
Kathy: Yeah, that gives genuine gladness, right? That’s exactly what Jesus did, that example that we have to follow, to love righteousness and hate lawlessness. And then we’re going to find that oil of gladness that comes from that.
Eunice: So, being in all these different situations where before I would have felt my flesh come up, when I conquer it more and more, I don’t feel that irritation, that annoyance, that worrying anymore. That is actually true peace.
Kathy: Rest from sin. That is true peace.
Eunice: I would say, for me, if you ask me what happiness means, I would say it’s a real, deep, inner peace, no matter what happens in life. No matter what I go through, no matter what anyone says, whether I’m rich or poor, where I live in the world. Anything can happen. But peace!
Kathy: And that can include grief and hard times. And they do happen to us in life, but underneath all of that, we have this peace and confidence in God that can’t be shaken, right?
Eunice: Yeah, and there are times when if it’s not grief or sorrow, it’s just times when our body is tired, or when things are going a little crazy and, you know, it’s what we’d call stressful.
Kathy: You know about stress, Eunice?
Eunice: Well, do you? But then in that time, we actually have to choose to believe that no matter what happens, I’m not going to doubt God, blame God, or complain, or lose my patience, and then that conscious choice brings me back to that peace.
Kathy: Right, because in all these things that happen, we’re being shaken, right? And these things that come up from us, from our nature then, in these times when we’re stressed and we’re tired and different things come up, right? And we’re being shaken and that’s our opportunity to get rid of those things. There’s actually a verse in Hebrews that I’ve thought about many times when going through things that have been difficult and it says, “But now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” So, in these things I go through, God is allowing that so that I can be shaken and these things that should be gone from my life …
Eunice: … need to be shaken off.
Kathy: Need to be shaken off, exactly! And I use those opportunities then, so that that happens. And I don’t become stressed or anxious in those times and I don’t allow these things that come up to move me, but those things that are shaken, I overcome them and then what cannot be shaken remains. And what cannot be shaken is this rest and peace and joy that I get from being obedient and doing God’s will instead of my own, right?
Eunice: That’s actually a super good thing to keep before our eyes, you know. And not be caught up in the actual situation and what’s going on, but to remember this.
Kathy: And then I also think about what’s written in 1 Peter 5:10; it says: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” And to me, this is something I’ve always had before me, that I’m going to be perfected, established, strengthened and settled. So, no matter what happens in my life, this is what’s going to come of it and I’m going to get that inner peace and joy. It doesn’t matter what is happening around me, but I’m going to get this inner peace and joy in my heart and that is this oil of gladness.
Eunice: Situations pass, they blow over and, you know, what’s left is you yourself, between you and God.
Kathy: And it could sound a little bit like … flippant to say they blow over. Sometimes it takes a lot more than just blowing over when you go through some hard times, right? But all of it will pass and then it’s what we’re left with that matters.
Eunice: What we fill our spirit with is what we’re going to take up with us. So, I thought to end on this note. Paul says, “…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11, to pursue these things, and that will lead us to that happiness, or you can say peace inside that we’re looking for …
Kathy: … true joy …
Eunice: … that every human is looking for.
Kathy: And then we can truly rejoice always, as it’s written.
Eunice: So, thank you for listening today, and if you would like to check out the article that Kathy mentioned, “Are Christians supposed to always be happy?” you can click on the link that we have in the description.
Kathy: We also have a video there on the website called, “Is it possible to always be happy?” which I would recommend watching as well, and we’ll put the links for those in today’s episode description.
Eunice: So, thank you for listening and good luck in the pursuit of happiness.
Kathy: Thanks everyone! Bye!