"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is a well-known phrase in the Declaration of Independence. These are said to be three "unalienable rights" which have been given to all human beings by their Creator. It is only the pursuit of happiness, not the feeling of happiness, that is an unalienable right.
The Inspire 2017 women's seminar was held in Indiana over the weekend. I didn't go but watched videos of the sessions via the Internet. Dorcas Smucker was the main speaker. Of all the things she said, the one I liked the most was her illustration on happiness.
Happiness, Dorcas said, is a feeling. It is like a big dog in the back of your pickup truck. It's nice to have him along but you don't let him drive the truck. Neither do we let our feelings drive our lives. We may not be happy about the way things are in life but that does not mean we have to be miserable. We can still have joy when circumstances are not conducive to happiness. I can testify to that!
There have been many times in my life when I was not happy. When there was too much month left at the end of the money and no improvement in sight . . . when the children were constantly squabbling and uncooperative . . . when someone disgraced the family name and I knew we were the hottest gossip topic . . . when I was grieving the death of a son (twice). . . when I was stretched too thin and expected to do more than I was capable of doing properly . . . when things broke at the most inopportune time . . . when I sat by the bed of my son in the hospital (more than once) . . .
You get the picture. None of these things made me happy. Quite the opposite. But happiness is not the necessary for joy. While I was in the depth of grief after the death of my son, I played music all day long. I couldn't sing audibly but the music gave me comfort and joy that overruled the pursuit of happiness. I could have joy without a dog in the back of the truck.
When we allow our feelings to drive the truck, the pursuit of happiness consumes our lives. No matter what we have, we are constantly chasing after more or new things. But we don't have to be happy to have joy. The joy of the Lord helps us bear and get through the unhappy circumstances. And even if nothing changes, we know He is with us. There is joy in sorrow and hope in hopeless situations. Happiness is nice but not required.
Three men were walking on a wall,
Feeling, Faith, and Fact.
When Feeling took an awful fall
and Faith was taken back.
So close was Faith to Feeling
that he stumbled and fell too.
But Fact remained and pulled up Faith,
and Faith brought Feeling too.