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FIRST-PERSON: Questions Christians ask: How can I be happy?

PLANO, Texas (BP)–Over the years there have been a series of books on various subjects titled, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About [insert subject], But Were Afraid to Ask.” Just the same as these book titles, there are things Christians want to know, but are afraid to ask — questions concerning doubts, fears and life.

These aren’t questions from unbelievers, scoffers or skeptics. Instead, these questions come from you and me. They stick with us sort of like a nasty little secret that we keep tucked away in a closet. In this closet we suppress our doubts, so no one can know that we’ve even dealt with these issues or raised questions about our faith.

However, God is not afraid of our questions. He wants to answer the questions we have and put to rest our doubts. But we must first be honest and sincere with Him. The first question in a long list of many is: How can I be happy?

It may sound trivial, but it is our birthright as believers in Jesus to know real happiness and how we can obtain it. There are so many depressed, defeated believers and miserable Christians that don’t experience joy in Jesus Christ because they do not know the joy of Jesus.

Psalm 1, a favorite chapter for many, answers this question best: “Blessed [or happy] is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

You’ve probably heard it said, “Happiness is a choice” — and it’s so true. President Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” He was right. Indeed, happiness is a choice. You choose your attitude every day.

But in addition to that, I believe that happiness is a consequence. Happiness is a result of what is going on inside our hearts. It is a habit produced in our lives when we practice spiritual disciplines and godliness. And it is a consequence of our character and attitude when our faith grows.

Have you ever noticed how often the great qualities of a Christian are described in superlatives? It’s not simply hope; it’s blessed hope. It’s not just life; it’s abundant life. It’s not merely grace; it’s abounding grace. It’s not just plain old joy; it’s joy unspeakable.

So begin enjoying your life instead of just enduring it. You should no longer show up at church with glassy eyes to sit through the sermon. Celebrate the goodness and graciousness of God in your life!

Let me ask you this: when was the last time you laughed? I personally love to laugh. And if you know me, you know that I often express the happiness that Jesus has given me. Trust me — the happiest people I’ve seen are not the richest, the most talented or the most beautiful. Instead, they are the ones who love the Lord with all of their hearts, souls and minds.

Psalm 1:3 says that he who is happy “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

Now, that’s a promise. And while that promise seems so simple to hold on to, many still believe that happiness can only be found in the world through secularism, materialism, humanism, hedonism.

The close of Psalm 1 says, “The ungodly are not so [happy], but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:4-6).

How could there be happiness in that? It’s just a pathway to pain.

You’ll be happy when you practice the spiritual discipline of delighting in the law of God. Delight in His Word. Digest His Word. Treat each day as a gift from God for “this is the day the LORD has made … rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)! Don’t dwell on the past experiences, but today be joyfully planted like a tree by the waters.

When you come to the Christian life, there are certainly difficulties that you will face. But even in the midst of persecution, Paul worked to “finish [the] race with joy” (Acts 20:24). Rejoice in the hope that you and I can experience true happiness when we walk with Christ until He comes.
For more information on Jack Graham, visit www.jackgraham.org. The website contains Graham’s sermons in audio and video format, as well as an online store with resources. Visitors also can sign up for “A Daily Word from Pastor Graham.”

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  • Jack Graham