By guest writer RL Calhoun
I have never met a person who said: “I don’t want to be happy. I just want to be miserable all the time.” Yet, it is all too obvious that real happiness is missing in the lives of most people. It’s like an elusive butterfly. They know it’s there but they simply cannot take hold of it. Happiness continually eludes their grasp.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter we Christians know as the book of Philippians, which has been called appropriately The Epistle Of Joy. In its fourth chapter, Paul listed the key ingredients of a prescription for happy living for every child of God.
In Paul’s words, the first key ingredient is this: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!”
Now there might be things in your life in which you simply can’t rejoice right now. Perhaps you are enduring an affliction or dealing with a problem and it’s a big one. Let’s never forget that God didn’t promise us a rose garden.
In fact, at John 16:33, Jesus said to his first disciples and to all of us who know Him as Lord and Savior: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world”.
One thing we can always do no matter what is taking place in our lives is to rejoice in the Lord and to keep on rejoicing in Him. We can continually rejoice in who He is and what He means to our lives and, when we do, we are going to banish doom and gloom and happiness is going to burst forth upon us.
At Philipians 4:5, we learn that Paul’s second key ingredient is: “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Who do you think is the happier person? Someone who’s in a dither, ready to explode at any moment? Or is it the individual who is gentle, the person who rolls with the punches and is not always in a standby attack mode ready to strike out at someone else?
The answer is obvious. Gentle people just get along better in life than their overwrought counterparts.
When Paul wrote “The Lord is at hand”, I believe he wanted us to understand two facts. First, the Lord sees how we act. He knows when we are gentle and when we are not.
When we are not Christlike, we grieve the Holy Spirit and that stifles the flow of His power in our lives. And, without the power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot minister effectively.
Then again, there is an extremely positive fact that we need to understand by the words “The Lord is at hand”. The Lord never requires us to do what He does not enable us to do. He is at hand in our lives to produce gentleness within us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The third key ingredient in A Prescription For Happy Living is found in verses 4:6 and 4:7. Paul wrote: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ”.
Too often, it is worry that destroys happiness in the lives of Christians. As has been well said, “Worry doesn’t take the trouble out of tomorrow; it steals the happiness from today”. What the Lord wants us all to realize is that, if something is big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about.
When we are up against some seemingly impossible obstacle that is robbing us of joy and happiness, we are to move immediately into the arena of prayer. With thanksgiving in our hearts, we are to declare: “Lord, I praise You that I am an overcomer. I refuse to allow unbelief to reside in my heart.
“I stand on the truth that, with God, nothing is impossible. I cast off worry and I put on trust. I believe your word that says to me that I am always triumphant in Christ.”
When we stand strong in prayer and reject worry, the Lord promises to throw up a garrison of his peace around our lives and, where there is peace, there will be happiness!
RL Calhoun is pastor of New Life Fellowship church in Texas City.