"Happiness recedes from those who pursue her."
When I was much younger and not very wise, I thought I had the right to happiness. I had somehow developed a bit of my own theology wherein, if I did my very best then surely the Lord would see to it that my life would be one titled "Happily Ever After."
It didn't take long before I realized there was a bit of hole somewhere in my theological reasoning, but I couldn't figure it out. Why would God allow all these troubles to come to me when I was trying my best to obey all the rules?
I began to feel a bit out of sorts with God for not keeping up His end of the agreement I had drawn up. So I decided to find happiness on my own. I looked in all the places other people seemed to be finding it. My troubles didn't vanish into a cloud of euphoria, but I felt happier.....for a while.
Somehow this brand of happiness seemed to be rather superficial. It didn't satisfy. I found I had to work harder and harder at it for there to be any measure of satisfaction. Where was this elusive happiness my soul craved?
In the midst of my frantic searching someone whispered, "God is far more interested in making you more like Jesus than He is in your happiness."
I could hardly take it in. Really? Would He allow me to be miserable? It sounded painfully like truth. So I bent my knees. I asked Him to do the work in me He wanted to do. Not without a bit of fear and trembling and not without a secret little hope that He would relent and just make me happy.
It turns out He really is more concerned about molding and shaping me into the image of Jesus than giving me everything my little heart desires. I have seen Him do miraculous things, and I have seen Him allow difficult circumstances that shake me to the foundation of my soul, but always, always He has been there.
I have discovered that joy is much more substantial than happiness. It under-girds suffering and shines through tears of sorrow. It is His gift, wrapped in a love which does what is best in spite of the pitiful cries for happiness.