“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32 (NIV)
So often, I hear people speaking about what makes them happy. But what exactly is happiness? According to an article on verywellmind.com titled “What Is Happiness?” written by Kendra Cherry, “Happiness is an emotional state characterized by joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment.” The article acknowledges that happiness can take on different forms and definitions and “is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment,” as well as “a pleasurable or satisfying experience.”
Although there are many different definitions of happiness, it is often said to involve “positive emotions and life satisfaction.https://www.meriam-webter.com/dictionary/happiness“
If we examine all the definitions of happiness, we find that it is a simple emotion that refers to a feeling of fulfillment and contentment. But what happens when those feelings go away?
Many of us feel happy when we complete tasks such as shopping, decorating our perfect home and caring for our loved ones, family, spouse/or partner, and children. But what happens when those things or people are no longer available or in our lives?
Some people spend most of their lives peering through a glass window, looking at others who appear happy. We all want things we think will make us happy. I know people who shop when they feel empty because buying what they want or like makes them happy. But does it, though?
I was once one of those people who watched the world through a glass window. I used to believe I could only be happy if I obtained what I wanted or what others had. However, the truth is that none of those things brought me true happiness. Instead, after some time, it made me feel empty. Why? Because there was an emptiness in my heart that could not be filled with possessions, jobs, and praise from others.
So, after many years of searching for happiness to fill the emptiness in my heart, I finally understood that Jesus was the only one who could fill my void and bring me joy. I knew how much Jesus loved me. As I read God’s Word, I began to see the blessings God had given me even before I was born. He entrusted my care to the hands of my two wonderful parents who would love, protect, and guide me, so I could one day grow into the woman God created me to be.
My parents weren’t perfect, but neither was I. God blessed me with three siblings. And even though we loved each other, we were constantly at odds with one another. Unfortunately, those negative traits were passed on to my daughters and their children.
However, how can I rebuild those messy relationships with God’s help? Knowing who God is and who I am, has given me the strength to see my past through his eyes of grace.
According to my friend Ann Knopp, author of “Pursuing Jesus, Obeying Jesus, and Living Jesus,” drivers use their rearview mirror to assist them when backing up or parallel parking their vehicles. However, drivers are not meant to look back through their rear mirrors because it increases the likelihood that they will miss what is in front of them and cause an accident.”
The same is true for us in our Christian walk. The enemy loves to keep us focused on the past and focused on the “what ifs.” It’s a way to divert our attention from what God has in front of us and prevent us from seeing the accurate picture.
I often reflect on the past, wishing I could go back and right my wrongs; be a better example for my children, husband, friends, and family. But the truth is there is nothing I can do to change anything. All I can do is keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, thank him for his forgiveness, mercy, and grace, and continue running my race. Jesus knew my past before I was born, and he decided to die for me and reconcile me to the Father. Therefore, I must embrace who I am in Christ.
In Colossians 1:10-14 (NIV), Paul gives us a list of the things he prayed for in his life. We can also hold on to this list as we continue to run our race. His list was summarized by my friend Ann Knopp in her book “Pursuing Jesus, Obeying Jesus, Living for Jesus” (Knopp, Ann L. p. 93) as follows:
• Live a life worthy of the Lord.
• Please Him in every way.
• Bear fruit in every good work.
• Be strengthened in His Power.
• Have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the Father.
• Share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom.
• Know that we have been saved from the darkness (which is the grip of Satan’s hand) to full redemption and forgiveness in Christ.
• Be a person who honors the Lord.
Therefore, I decided today to put the past where it belongs and keep my eyes on Jesus, run my race, and joyfully await the return of my Lord Jesus. True happiness can only come from knowing Jesus, walking with Jesus, and living with Jesus.
John 8:32 (NIV) says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” True happiness and freedom can only come to us by knowing Jesus. We are no longer prisoners in chains; we are free. We don’t need to continue believing the enemy’s lies. Jesus took our place on the cross and took the punishment for our past, present, and future. So, we don’t need to live in chains.
When we fall into our old habits of looking back to our past instead of looking at what is ahead, let us remember that Jesus fully paid our account. My mistakes and wrongdoings don’t define me; Jesus’ sacrifice, love, mercy, and Grace represent who I am. Furthermore, this is not a feeling that can last only for a few moments. No, His love and Grace are eternal.
Lord Jesus, you paid the price on that cross to set me free from bondage. I’m no longer the person I used to be. I’m a new creation in You. Please help me remember who you are, and I am because of you. Thank you for your word, which strengthens me when I’m weak and continues to reassure me of who I am. I am your child and coheir with Jesus. In your precious name, I pray, amen!
- Knopp, Ann L, Pursue Jesus, Obey Jesus, Live for Jesus. Copyright by Ann L Knopp, Christian Faith Publishing, 2021
- (Merriam-Webster.com, Merriam-Webster, https://dictionary/happiness. Accessed 26 November 2022)
- NIV Bible (New International Version)