I often wondered when I saw my mother. How does she manage to be happy most of the time? If you have been blessed enough to spend time with her, you will testify that time just flows by when she is around and life seems to be just as God would intend it to be – JOYFUL. There is something about my mom and her continuous joy that never fails to amuse me. So one day as I was praying I thought I will ask God himself using the simple logic that if he has created my mum and he created me then probably even I have the capacity in me to have that happiness and be a constant source of joy to others.
Initially I must confess, my thoughts went nowhere and the most logical answer was that it is impossible for any human to be that happy and joyful unless he or she were dropped on their head as a child. Clearly I ruled that out to be the case for my mother as I thought if she was dropped she would have shown a few more symptoms. Then the only explanation was that she had experienced God so closely that nothing could rob her of the joy of knowing the Lord. So then I wondered what really could be the reason for me being unable to express this joy as even I have seen God work in my life and I had three primary reasons come to mind.
One of the major reasons of sadness in my life was identity crises. We all strive towards having our own identity. Some find their identity in the work they do, some in the relationships they have in their lives, while some by the degrees and qualification they possess, but I would say all these are temporary. In biblical sense it is like building your house on sand, that when the wind blows or the flood comes it can easily be broken down. I thought my identity was my name because it is how people recognized who I was and then the work I did, that is to say how successful I was in things I handled and finally with the people I related to, but to be truly joyful and happy I had to identify myself as A CHILD OF GOD. This is the only identity that we all have, because everything else can be easily taken away or with time fade off, but our identity as a child of God remains with us from the moment of our conception and will continue even after passing away from this world.
The second reason is that the world is now struggling with ‘the culture of the temporary’. We fear commitment today and therefore we have various variations to commitment like ‘live in’ relationship for example. I can testify endlessly about how I never took commitment just because I was apprehensive of things tending to get serious. So, I would be the one who is around but would never commit myself to a community or a person or a particular responsibility. I thought it was a safe and better place to be and without commitment I am not answerable to anybody. But without commitment we are like half boiled eggs. Commitment is to be fully involved and not to sit on the fence and do things only when it’s feasible for oneself. Giving your 100% in the form of commitment is the key to happiness.
The modern day culture is now telling us to use and discard things, people and also institutions once the work is done for us or if things go wrong. However, happiness is not in throwing away but in repairing and restoring things. This is much more relevant as regards relationships and institutions. ‘Just because a priest reprimanded me, I will leave the Catholic Church or my mum is never happy with me so I decide to leave home. This car is five months old and a new model is out so I will buy the latest model.’ The attitude of discarding away and wanting new things to replace the old will always leave a void in us that we need or want more that what we have. We must learn to be content with what we have and be grateful for the same.
The third hindrance to experience the Joy in our lives is that we want immediate gratification. Prayers should be answered immediately and with positive results. People should respond instantly. The problem here is that we want to be in control and we want everyone to function in our time. The joy of waiting and the value of patience is not only lost but buried so deep into the ground that we need to begin re discovering it. I was amazed to see in the scriptures that God spoke to Moses after 40 years, which in my case would mean I still have a decade and a half to go. Jesus did start his ministry immediately after his birth but he patiently waited for the moment and began his public ministry 30 years later. Why did they have to wait for so long? The only answer is because as we wait we grow spiritually. Patience is the virtue we must seek and perseverance in prayer which will help us witness miracles.
To be joyful isn’t rocket science. It is the very nature of every human being, but somewhere down the line our hearts are clouded with worry anxiety and problem. The source of our joy is God himself, so if we believe God is with us then his Joy is also with us. We want Joy but not at the risk of being vulnerable. The truth however is that true joy can permeate our lives only when we allow God to be in control and completely surrender our lives. Look at yourself; what do you think is the first thing people notice? Do they notice the joy on your heart of having known God or following Jesus or do they notice any other human being who is struggling to know the secret of true happiness. You look around and you will find enough people walking around with long faces and having expressions like they drank bottles of vinegar. How can we possibly evangelize and be channels of grace with such a look. Most of these people are the ones we find filling our churches and meetings. They come there wanting to know ‘intellectually’ what will make them happy. The funny part is that the secret of true happiness is “not knowing” but “in being” who God intended you to be – SIMPLY A CHILD OF GOD SEEKING HIS HEART.