The future is a wonderful, exciting thing. While I can’t deny I’ve done my fair share of worrying about what it may bring, God has brought my heart to the place where I know His plans are best. I’ve surrendered my hopes and dreams into His hands and have begun to see Him working through that to bring about all that He has for me. And you know what? I’m excited. I’m not even sure what those plans are yet, but I’m smiling now just thinking about it. I want no other place than where God would have me and though the road may be hard and painful, the blessings will be many and the possibilities of what He will do in/through me makes my heart sing with anticipation. I’m ready to get started. To see where He takes me. I’m excited about the people I’ll meet, the places I’ll go, and the ones who will walk the journey with me. I’m excited about serving Him.
The knowledge that my future lies in the hands of a loving, capable, great God is a comfort and a joy. In hard times, I cling to the hope that there will be brighter days and that God will work beauty out of my pain and suffering (He has, you know. It’s been worth every tear). There is nothing wrong with looking forward, especially not with hope of God’s promises.
Yet sometimes we get so caught up in the looking forward that we miss the here and now. People wait their whole lives for happiness to round the corner. It’s so easy to tell yourself, “I’ll be happy when…” and that thing/time comes and it’s alright, but it has its struggles and once again you tell yourself, “I’ll be happy when…”
Stop waiting for happiness to arrive and start learning to be content in the place that God has you. Right here. Right now.
“Happiness is not a station to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” -Margret Lee Runbeck
What About The Hurting?
I’m not about to tell you that this is an easy task. The past three years have been the hardest of my entire life and for the majority of it, I can definitely tell you I was not happy. Depression has a way of stealing your ability to see the things that might make you smile; it steals your joy like nothing else and makes you doubt every hope you cling to. If depression is what you’re facing, please do not read this as “You have to be a happy-go-lucky-Christian all the time with a super-positive attitude and a permanent smile.” In fact, even if you’re not struggling with depression, please don’t read it that way. This isn’t a check off list of what you should be doing to look the perfect part of a Christian. Life is hard. Pain is real. People struggle. And I’m not about to ask you to sweep that under the rug or hide it. When I say happiness, I don’t just mean a smile. Especially not a fake one. It goes so much deeper than that and has more to do with our heart than the expression on our face.
We have this idea that happiness means the world is perfect. That if we’re happy then things must be heavenly and we’re walking on clouds. We think that contentment only comes when we have all that we desire. And yet, there will never come a time in this life that everything is perfect. No matter how great things get, we still live in a fallen world and we’re still faced with that fact day by day. The people who are happiest are not the people who have everything, but the ones who learn to truly appreciate whatever they’ve been given. It’s not so much about getting past the hurt, but learning to be content, even in the pain.
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:11-13
What Have We To Be Happy About?
I just typed that question and now my mind is trying to figure out how to answer it. Not because there isn’t an answer, but because there are so many I don’t know how to choose. Here goes with the biggest, most important one:
We serve a mighty, loving, powerful, God who holds us in His hands and will never, ever let us go. A God who makes beauty out of ugly things and takes the messes of this life and redeems them for our good and His glory. For all the pain and suffering that is this world, it is overcome by redemption. Because Jesus lives. He has conquered death and blotted out our every transgression. The past that haunts us is no longer our burden, for He carried it to the cross. And even in our darkest hours, when we cannot feel Him and do not know if we believe, He is faithful. He is our hope in our darkest hour. And because of that hope, we can find contentment in the suffering. We can find joy in the pain, because of Whose we are.
“Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” -Psalm 144:15
That Thing Called Life –
Perhaps though, today is not a day of trials and difficulty. Perhaps you simply find yourself going about life, waiting for something exciting. Perhaps you’re at a point in your life where things are coming together and you can’t wait, but you have to. I’m at that point right now. God has been working amazing things and answering prayers I’ve been praying for nearly a year now. And it’s exciting. I want to dance and sing and cry and laugh. But He’s teaching me to be content right where I am.
I’m still holding onto the excitement of the future. I still want to smile ear to ear at the thought of all that’s happening. But I also don’t want to miss the here and now. Because for all the struggles and difficulties of every day, I am so incredibly blessed and if I spend all this time waiting and waiting to be happy, I will miss the happiness that is right here in front of me.
So I’m learning to enjoy where I’m at. To travel in happiness, rather than always toward what I think may bring it. Because God is good. And love is great. And God is working even now to help me smile a little wider and laugh a little harder. He’s teaching me to embrace every ounce of joy I can find in life and know that pain and struggles and darkness are tools by which God blesses us and those around us.
Learn to be content where you’re at. Pressing forward, always, but knowing that God has you exactly in the place you are meant to be right at this moment and looking for the many blessings along the way.