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Beliefs About Happiness (EDIT)

We all like to think that something is wrong with our life if we’re not happy. Our ministry, our family, our friends, everything should make us happy. If we have a big problem that is consuming our life, we think we are somehow the exception and something is wrong because were not as happy as we think we should be.

I agree that a life embarked on in a Godly way should bring us joy and fulfillment but I don’t know any scripture that promises happiness.

In fact, the opposite is true. Let’s consider these verses:

Hard pressed on every side

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” -2 Cor 4:8-12

In this world, you will have trouble

“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 16:33

More Hardship

“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hungerin purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” -2 Cor 6:3-10

Delight in hardship

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, [I delight in] in insults, [I delight in] in hardships, [I delight in] in persecutions, [I delight in] in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Cor 12: 9-10

Find joy in suffering

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:2-4

The Bible doesn’t promise us happiness. The Bible promises you and me suffering, sacrifice, and hardship for the name of Christ. Yes, we will be given fulfillment, joy, and peace in the midst of suffering but happiness isn’t mentioned.

False Belief: Ministry should make me happy

False Belief: Life should make me happy

I once heard someone say “If you expect life to be easy, life will be awfully hard. If you expect life to be awfully hard, life will be easy.”

In my own life, I know full well I will have happy times and times of suffering. I will enjoy and embrace the happy times when they come around but I don’t expect them and I don’t need them to be okay.

I used to struggle with this question about happiness a lot and the expectation of happiness crippeled my progress. I always wondered why my life wasn’t easier – like other people’s lives I knew.

I grew up in an abusive home with someone who was mentally ill. I spent the better part of two decades reading psychology to understand what I went through and how to heal. I remember times living in a domestic violence shelter where pimps and drug dealers were beating on the doors. Sometimes we only had peanut butter to eat and other times we had no heat in the winter, or no water, or power. I had a friend growing up who was institutionalized on multiple occasions. Not long ago I had a friend and colleague who was a completely normal spiral into an out-of-control manic episode and took his own life within 90 days. My wife and I recently hosted our first foster child and the things she went through are unspeakable. Many of the people I have known and loved quit the race somewhere along the way. Once while I was in ministry I was the only leadership figure present when a homeless man pulled a knife on someone and I had to talk him down.

The devil is evil, and he is prowling around like a drawing lion looking to devour your friends, your family, the people in your ministry, and in your community.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” -Romans 12:9

I hate the evil I have seen in my life and in the lives of the people I have known and loved. I’m willing to suffer if that’s what is necessary to point people toward God and rescue them from the jaws of the lion. This is the best thing I can do with my life.

All good things come with a price. Jesus paid the ultimate price for the ultimate good thing – salvation for all mankind.

If I want to fulfill my greatest potential by bringing the love of God into this world in every instance, and I am willing to suffer to make it happen.

I want to train to win the race – to have victory in the fight, not as one beating the air. I want to make myself obedient to christ in every way so that I can turn around and have victory in the world too.

I have had a few years of training in mixed martial arts and military combatives. One thing that that even someone with a moderate amount of training figures out is how to tell instantly who you never want to fight.

The guy who is yelling, beating his chest, swearing, and talking tough usually has no experience. He is peacocking because he is inexperienced.

The guy you worry about is the one that is calm and says something like “if this is really what you want to do.” He moves slowly – not an ounce of adrenaline or panic in his body. He keeps unwavering eye contact without a flash of emotion on his face. That’s a scary fighter.

The reason he is different is his lack of fear. He has no fear because he knows what a punch to the face feels like and he doesn’t care. He’s been knocked down but he wasn’t destroyed. He has already had endurance; seen troubles, hardships, distresses, and beatings. He has been hard-pressed on every side and has been perplexed in the midst of battle. He has already allowed the testing to produce his perseverance. Perseverance finished its work so that he lacks nothing. He walked through the fire and came out the other side a warrior.

If you have been knocked down in ministry, good. Get up and let’s do it again together.

If you have faced evil, and death in ministry, excellent. Let’s go for round two.

If you have felt disheartened or crushed, well done. Let’s pay the price to bring God’s love to your community.

But why should we go through this suffering?

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. […] 13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober [gird up your loins], set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” – 1 Peter 1:6-13

Gird up your loins and let’s rejoice in our suffering.

New Belief: In this world, I will have trouble & I find joy in my suffering

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