Heathdale flower 27th October 2023

Deeper Than Happiness

As the endeavour of happiness often wears thin, followers of Jesus are encouraged to see life's challenges and difficulties much like how Jesus viewed tough moments, with a focus on God's greater plan. With this perspective, we have a security to carry us through all difficulties: the knowledge that God's hand at work at all times, in all situations.

Heathdale flower

Recently I was relaxing with one of my favourite past-times: channel surfing. This is one of those lazy moments where you take some time to relax, lay on the couch, remote control in hand, flicking from one channel to the next hoping to find something that would grab my attention. As I pushed the channel button one more time, up popped a music program that had the theme ‘One Hit Wonders!’ The song that was playing at this time was Bobby Farris’ ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’

The song brought an instant smile to my face as I recalled that this song caught most of our imaginations and on more than one occasion, we typically found ourselves humming or just singing along with the radio. The song gave birth to T-shirts, bumper stickers and even posters, all encouraging us not to be overcome by life’s difficulties, but to focus on simply being happy!

On one level, not bad advice, but after a while it seemed to wear a bit ‘thin’. Despite the ‘come what mays’ there was a sense that this song was a little shallow because there are times when ‘being happy’ is not enough to overcome the difficulty before you.

The distinction between being happy for the sake of being happy and being able to see the good in times that are difficult or challenging, is a distinctive followers of Jesus can have as they are able to look past the immediate and see life in its full perspective, the way God had intended it to be. This is what Jesus was able to do in this moment that is recorded in the New Testament Book of Luke. Here’s a time when the people are faced with a perplexing even challenging situation, yet because Jesus is able to see it from a heavenly perspective, His response is so different.

The people could only see what appeared to be a crazy person who scared everyone who came near. Yet Jesus could see past this and could see that he was a man in need to God’s healing and blessing.

Jesus sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:35-39)

The ability to draw breath and look for the good in each moment, even when circumstances are tough or challenging, is something Jesus was able to do. Yet it’s not meant to be just a special ability He had but He modelled it for us so that we too could exercise this ability every day. When bad things happened in the life of Jesus, He didn’t complain but rather faced each challenge, each tough moment that occurred and viewed such moments through the perspective of the bigger story of God. As we respond in such a manner, we allow His character to work in us and through us.

We don’t always see that God is at work but rather we see the things that aren’t in order or are out of place. A characteristic of being human is to draw strength from predictability and events that make sense! Have you ever been caught in such a moment when you have seen or encountered something that was not as you anticipated it to be? It may even have been beyond your belief or understanding. How did you initially react? Like most of us, you probably were a little taken-a-back, even afraid of what took place.

Jesus never let challenges or difficulties overcome Him. As followers of Jesus, we should have the same attitude of faith; of being undeterred by challenges and tough times, but rather discerning God’s hand at work. We need to see things from God’s perspective instead of being fearful. It is then we’ll realise God is at work.