I love talking about happiness. It makes me happy! Yet I am aware that happiness is as elusive as a feather in the wind… as permanent as a vase of flowers sitting on a counter only to wilt and die within the week. Happiness is a rather disgusting, frustrating pursuit that merely makes me question the value we place in it.
The pastor at my church recently asked this question:
Is it the happy who are thankful or the thankful that are happy?
Which comes first?
Which one flows from the other?
If you are wealthy, are you thankful for your wealth and therefore happy or are you happy and therefore thankful for your wealth? I have met so many wealthy individuals who were not only unhappy but also discontent. Despite their wealth, they had the same problems in life with their marriage and family that everyone experiences regardless of their net worth.
Maybe a better question would be to replace the word happy with joy, because happiness is fleeting but joy is what we feel when we know that God loves us. It is easier to see ourselves as joyful because of our Lord. Can you honestly say that your wealth doesn’t matter? Would you be as “joyful” if you had no wealth or very little?
Let’s try another question:
Are we thankful to God for What He has done or Who He is?
This question takes us a little deeper into the joy we claim we have. As Christians, we have access to a joy that defies all explanation or cause, other than the Lord in our lives. But is that joy a result of what he has done for us or simply who He is? If you have a significant amount of wealth, are you sure that your joy does not come from being financially secure and wealthy? If you woke up tomorrow and all of your wealth was gone, could you still be joyful? It helps you understand more clearly the condition of your heart.
Is our commitment to God because He has given us His love and His Son on the cross or because our God is loving, compassionate, and merciful because of who He is?
Tough question. Makes us think. If we are thankful to God for who He is instead of what He has given to us, then our joy in life has nothing to do with what we have or have not been given. That makes our wealth window dressing in the earthly home that we have been placed in and helps our relationship to it as a mere steward carrying out the Lords wishes for it.
If gratitude is tied to what we get, our gratitude is masquerading as selfishness because it is based on our own needs and desires. That makes it merely happiness and not the true joy that God promises us both in heaven and on earth. The only way that we can achieve true joy is to be thankful for something that does not change and is always there…our heavenly father!
You see, gratitude will flow from who God is, in all of His love for us because that does not change. He is relentlessly pursuing us not because he is selfish, but because he loves us and wants us to share in that love. Pain and suffering can both be treated the same way. God can use both to show his enduring Love for us.
Our gratitude will flow from who God is so that we can thank Him for everything including our pain and suffering. So many in Hollywood commit suicide because they just don’t get this. I believe the vets that commit suicide (twenty a day) because they don’t understand this. I believe the sadness of so many in America—the richest country in the world throughout history—is because they don’t understand this. Nothing will make sense in this world we live in without the knowledge of Jesus and accepting His love and His joy. We indeed have something to be thankful for and it doesn’t matter what our condition or circumstance. That makes me want to jump for joy!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thes. 5: 16-18
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Are you content? Use this contentment map by Kingdom Advisors as the beginning of a bigger conversation that you have with your spouse or with the Lord about where you stand in light of the opportunity to experience greater contentment. This tool is not designed to be an assessment, but rather a conversation starter and a tool that begins to open doors to greater levels of contentment in your roles, relationships, and financial decisions.