THE REFUGE BLOG: It’s Not Easy!
By Bill Butler
I have been thinking a lot lately about “being happy.” Not that I am a negative person, but it seems to me that being happy is cool, but not always practical. The pursuit of happiness, as Todd once said to me “is an American pursuit, not a biblical one.” Jesus warned us that following Him would not be easy. In the book of John, Jesus is quoted as saying “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 15:33 NIV). Jesus overcoming the world is certainly encouraging, but “you will have trouble” is not necessarily something to look forward to. The eventual outcome of our faith in salvation through Jesus Christ is eternal life, but it is not always a happy process that gets us there. Tradition tells us that Paul was beheaded. He never fell back on his faith… he died for it. I don’t think when the Roman soldier raised his sword that Paul thought to himself “this is sure a happy time!” Scripture tells us he was ready to die, but I don’t think he was really looking forward to it with glee. Paul recognized that suffering makes us stronger “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV). So than suffering for God naturally leads to happiness, a happiness that comes from the love that God poured out into our hearts.
In our pursuit of happiness, we must be careful to avoid Satan’s snares that draw us in based on happiness, or pleasure, especially if that happiness is won at a cost of doing what is not morally, or biblically right. Sometimes doing what is hard, but morally right does not lead to happiness in the short-term. Conversely doing what is wrong can bring about a short-term form of happiness, but it is ultimately an empty happiness. If we endeavor to live godly lives, than the pursuit of happiness can be found in our following the path that God has for us, no matter how hard it might seem to follow. “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he “ (Proverbs 16:20 KJV.)