PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day 5 of a 7-part series “Things We Can’t Buy.” And today, we’re talking about Happiness.
First of all, no one is promised happiness. Even our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the PURSUIT of Happiness” (emphasis mine). We aren’t guaranteed happiness, only the right to pursue it.
So what does the pursuit of happiness look like? It depends. If a new car or dress makes you happy, your happiness will be short-lived. The car will get a scratch and the dress will eventually go out of style. On the other hand, maybe you look for people to make you happy. In that case, you’ll eventually be disappointed because that’s a heavy burden to put on another person—to expect them to carry the weight of your happiness.
To be honest, happiness shouldn’t be the goal. What we should pursue is joy. And there’s a difference. Happiness is temporary but joy is everlasting. No one I know lives by that principle better than my friend Tracey. Joy is her signature word. Be prepared for “Sing-a-long with Tracey” when For King and Country’s song “Joy” comes on the radio!
When it comes to the Bible and this topic, I always think of the movie “Pollyanna.” Hayley Mills was my mom’s generation, but Mom made sure I knew every Hayley Mills movie that Disney produced (as well as a few others). But I don’t think Mom expected what happened… I didn’t just like Hayley Mills movies. I wanted to BE Hayley Mills. I knew every line and every song. I can still do the song and dance routine from “The Parent Trap” (I’m not volunteering to demonstrate).
But getting back to “Pollyanna…” in a conversation the title character had with Reverend Ford, she said, “There are eight hundred happy texts, did you know that?… my father said that if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must have wanted us to do it.”
Well… I hate to burst the bubble of other “Pollyanna” fans, but the scriptwriters were way off. However, the character was right about one thing… God, in fact, does want us to be happy/joyful.
BibleStudyTools.com has a neat feature that lets you see how many times a word is used in Scripture. Of course, the translation will make a difference. I tend to use the English Standard Version (ESV) most often, so let’s use that one. “Happy” is used 8 times; “Happiness” is used 2 times; “Joy” is used 171; “Joyful” is used 19 times; “Rejoice” is used 154 times; “Rejoicing” is used 23 times; “Glad” is used 92 times. That totals to 469 instances. I didn’t cross-check for duplicates but that’s still a lot. Pollyanna wouldn’t be disappointed in those results.
Earlier, I said happiness shouldn’t be the goal. And I didn’t know these numbers when I started writing this morning, but I feel validated for making that statement. The focus isn’t about happiness, the Bible focuses more on joy and the derivatives of that word.
But wait! There’s more! My inner nerd is giddy with this morning’s post, and I’m itching to make a spreadsheet. But I’ll restrain myself. Consider this: “Praise” is used 182 times and “Worship” is used 105 times. “Faith” is used 257 times and “Trust” is used 84 times.
If we’re looking to pursue joy—the use of praise, worship, faith, and trust in Scripture are strong tools. Who can praise and worship without joy? And how can we have faith and trust without some measure of joy? And what about hope? 145 uses! “Pray”—90 times. “Prayer”—103 times. All of this circles back to joy in the Lord! Not always joy in our circumstances, but always, always, always—we can find joy in the Lord! Philippians 4:4 ESV says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
Y’all, I could go on and on. This stuff energizes me and gets me so excited! God’s word is so amazing, isn’t it?!
Today, as you pray, thank God for wanting us to be joyful! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pursue joy in the Lord—in both the good times and the bad. Ask Him to help you focus on praise, worship, faith, trust, hope, and prayer as tools that will help you be joyful in Jesus!