As a mom, when asked what I want for my kids, I have often said “I just want my kids to be happy.” But what does that mean exactly. When I say it to myself “I just want to be happy” what do I really mean by that. That I want to live a life free from pain? That I want to do what I want to do? That I want all my troubles to go away?
TV advertisers make it sound so easy. All of my problems will melt away in a bowl of Campbell’s soup and I can dance and sing my way to a great day with Folger’s in my cup. If I’m sad, I can have a Coke and a smile, and if I buy the world a Coke, just think of the possibilities. So finding happiness should be as simple as a trip to the grocery store.
But when I buy those products, they don’t deliver as promised. So my search for happiness takes me elsewhere. To Starbucks, to the liquor store, and at times in my life, to the pharmacy. But still this strange thing called happiness continues to elude me. So where do I find it? And was it really promised to me at all? Well, yes, in fact, the Constitution of this great country informs me that I have an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
But when I look to the life of Jesus, I learn that when He approached His disciples and asked them to follow Him, He did not promise them happiness, in fact, He knew that they would be faced with a lifetime of persecution, pain and suffering, and ultimately death. Of course, they didn’t have the option of Coca-cola to make the world a better place, but I digress…
Ultimately, the choice is mine to make. Do I continue to buy into the notion that the goal in life is to pursue happiness, and that there is something “out there” that will give it to me or do I trust that greater things wait in store for me by surrendering my life, my desires, my plans for the only One who can really make any promises to me at all.