Humans are naturally pessimistic. No matter how pleasurable life is, no matter the blessings and joys surrounding us, it’s so easy to find something to complain about. It’s so easy to find fault in something. It’s so hard to find goodness in this broken world.
Especially this year, which has been so incredibly dark for everyone. Plagues, fires, and strife have overrun nations. I personally have been struggling with health issues too complicated to get into. I have cried myself to sleep and felt like giving up. I felt like life was too painful, that it wasn’t worth fighting for.
But if we can find something wrong in the happiest of days, surely we can find something to be grateful for in the darkest of days, even if we have to work a little harder.
Even with such magnificent clouds, it’s easy to dwell on the telephone poles and wires.
I realized that my tears had fallen onto a soft, clean pillow. I was snuggled up in a comfortable, warm bed. I was clean and my stomach was full. I had a family who loves me and friends who support me. The next morning I looked outside and saw fluffy white clouds bobbing across a brilliant blue expanse. I heard twittering birds and rustling leaves. I felt the smoothness of acorns and detailed grooves of an oak tree. Light reflecting off of dewdrops dazzled my eyes and I marveled at how they came to be.
Once I’d started being grateful, I couldn’t stop. I felt my lips lifting into a smile. Yes, my body was still in pain. Yes, the world was still full of sorrow and division. But the world is also still full of goodness and beauty and life. And those blessings are what we ought to dwell on.
Happiness isn’t about having everything, being healthy and rich and beautiful and loved by all. It’s about being grateful for what I do have and finding wonder in the smallest things.
But sometimes this world is unimaginably cruel and evil. Prisoners are starved and beaten, slaves are driven to helpless despair, and people are persecuted and killed for their beliefs. What then? In the darkest of hours, there are no blue skies, there is no fresh air, there is no cleanliness. What is there to be grateful for?
There is always God. God, that infinitely perfect, almighty, and holy Being, who loves you. Me. And every single human being. How often have we spit in his face, rejected his love, followed our own desires that only leads to destruction. And how often has he pursued us so that we may choose him. How often has he been willing to mercifully forgive us if only we repent and turn back to him.
Let this sink in. The Creator of galaxies, the Inventor of color, the Lord of the deepest ocean and heights of heaven…despite all of His power, this is not a distant, lofty, aloof God. This is a God who wants to know you. A God who wants you to know him. A God who would even stoop to become mortal flesh and suffer pain and humiliation so that he can achieve his goal: that we love and live with Him for eternity.
If we choose him, there is nothing to fear. This all-powerful God will protect us in the depths of evil and amidst all confusion and chaos. Death is not the end, because he will raise us up to eternal life with him. Fueled by his love, nothing can stop us.
God’s constant presence is always something to be grateful for. We can never repay God for his mercy and protection, but what he wants more than anything else is for us to obey his teachings so we can become more like Him: perfect, loving, and truly good.
This is why martyrs willingly give up their bodies to suffer the worst torments instead of denying God. This is why Christians die with words of praise and glory and eager expectation instead of fear and regret and uncertainty. This is why we always have something to be grateful for, no matter how dismal life gets.
Whenever you’re struggling with despair and helplessness, I encourage you to take a moment and start thinking about things you’re grateful for. I guarantee that you will feel happier. 🙂
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!
4 thoughts on “The Secret to Happiness”
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Thanks! You too! 🙂
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