We live in a world so focused on pursuing happiness. Do whatever makes you feel happy. Marriages don’t last because "you just don’t make me feel happy anymore." Is happiness truly the goal in life? If so… than why is this world struggling with depression more than ever before? If we are so intensely pursing happiness… why are we all so very unhappy???
Could it be that happiness is not truly our purpose here on planet earth? In a world full of aches and disappointments… is it truly our purpose to seek after only feeling happy?
Social media and pop culture certainly push happiness on us everywhere we turn. From food commercials telling us to eat whatever we want, whenever we want and to never deprive ourselves of delicious food, to sex… that we ought to have as many partners as possible. Sex and the City was a huge series that reflected our world’s perspective that sex is just a normal way of life for all single people out there… and yet I can’t help but watch the show and feel an overwhelming sense of sadness at how broken the women depicted truly are, how tons of sex still left them all still feeling unhappy and disappointed.
What if the pursuit of happiness (which is truly a great movie by the way) is truly only a set up for failure? If we pursue happiness but are bombarded by death, loss, illness and tragedy… is happiness truly an attainable goal? I don’t think so. The truth is our world sucks… and if this is all we live for, to feel happy, than dang it! That’s depressing! I think that would make anyone depressed.
I grew up in a Christian home, I have been raised going to church and reading my bible. In the church I was led to believe that if I obeyed God and His commands than I would be “blessed.” Or as I interpreted it, my life would go well and I would be happy (again with that happy thing!). As a Christian I still thought the goal was to be good, love God, he will give me good things and I will be happy… but then crap happens… what do we do then? I came to a crisis in my faith as a young adult when difficulties happened in my life and I saw tragedy happening in the lives of people around me. I still subconsciously thought the goal in life was the pursuit of happiness… that God’s blessings meant I would be happy… BUT THAT’S JUST NOT TRUE! To believe this is a set up for discouragement and disappointment.
I think as someone who struggles with depression I long to feel happy again, but what I'm learning is the meaning of joy. Joy in the midst of our struggles. Hang with me here, I used to cringe at this thought too, but hear me out.
John Piper defined joy as, “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”
Pastor Rick Warren defined joy as "the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
If we can find joy (which is not just a happy feeling) as a result of our faith in God we will find comfort in the midst of the depths of depression, on the bad days.
All that being said, there will be good days ahead too. God does so desperately want to make you well. Hold onto the hope that God does want to pull you out of the darkness and into His healing light. But right now God meets you in the darkness and offers you His indescribable settled assurance in your soul that everything is going to be alright. A joy that defies logic and shines in the midst of your pain. Hold onto the hope of joy since the pursuit of happiness is just a chase after the wind.