I see others happy. I wonder how they accomplish that, so I try to have what they have. If happiness comes with these things, surely it would come to me.
I see happy people who love sports. I see them gather to feed one another, they’re a community. So I join them. We cheer, and the team wins. Then we cheer, and the team doesn’t win. I find that happiness disappears when victories become spare.
I see happy families, so I have a family. We’re involved in happy things, but when we come home and the kids are put to bed, late at night, happiness does not stay.
I see collectors that find purpose in their collections, doers that love the things they do. So I collect. I do. I find myself becoming paranoid that my collection will lose value, I yell at my children when they touch the things I have collected. I am even more unhappy.
So I turn to you, God. Your people seem happy, so I join them. I sing their songs and read the words that they say you have written. You say give, and I give. You say serve, and I serve. You say go, and I go. And when I’m alone with only my thoughts, I find that I still hate the company I keep.
Why, God? I am at the end of all things, because if happiness doesn’t come from you, I don’t know where to look. You say that you will give me the desires of my heart, so I’m asking for them. I want happiness. Why won’t it have me?
My beloved. Where have you been? You have been chasing happiness so long, you didn’t realize you were running away from me.
I know what unhappiness feels like. There were nights when I was hungry, times when I was lonely. When I most needed friends, almost all of them hid or turned on me. I would do it all again, though. So that you could know the breath of God on your neck, not as an accusing judge, but as a loving Father, I would do it all again.
How long will you keep making trades? You chase after excess when you should be learning sacrifice. You revel in the glow of your television when you should be delighting in the light of my presence. You want the forever, but you settle for the now. You read my book and think it is about you. If you keep accepting cheap imitations, you will never know joy.
Joy. That is what I bring. You seek happiness, and then you wonder why it never stays? It leaves because that is the nature of happiness. Happiness bubbles at the surface, but joy is in the depths. I am in both places, but I can take you as deep as you want to go.
Stop. Breathe. Look to the fields and hear me breathing. Look around your busy life and see the glory in the ordinary, and know that I am right there, so close that you think it’s too good to be true. Know that it has always been this way, and I have always been close enough to hear you whisper.
Above all, know that you are loved. When you are broken and confused, you are loved. When you are wrong, you are loved. You ask for the desires of your heart, I ask for your heart, let me change your desires. Desire is deceptive, looking for happiness where I want to give you joy. Desire seeks the immediate and I want to give you the eternal. The life I give is full of joy, it is forever, and it starts now.