I frequently have women tell me they just want to be happy. What is is that makes us happy? How do we know when we are truly happy? A better question would be, should we be pursuing happiness?

When we realize we are not happy our first reaction is to try to change some external thing to try and make ourselves feel better. We dye our hair or go for a new style, redecorate the house, go shopping and buy ourselves something, have a baby, get married, get divorced, take a mental vacation or a real vacation, have an affair, over-commit to avoid thinking and feeling anything at all. Some people abuse drugs or alcohol when they are very desperate.

Sometimes the things you try to make yourself feel better actually work- for a while. Having those desires sated might make you very happy until the bill comes, or you lose your spouse. What I have seen in others and learned for myself is that even while we are busy being “happy” on the outside, we are empty and miserable on the inside.

There is no peace, no contentment in being a spoiled brat. You will notice this in small children who beg and plead, manipulate and tantrum until the parent gives in and buys them what they want. The contentment and happiness they enjoy in possessing this brand new thing lasts about one night, then there is a new desire.

Why is this? The problem is that this happiness is based on human things; it is temporary, hollow, superficial and circumstantial.

False happiness comes from buying into the worlds ideas of having more and more. This is selfish and is the result of our failure to see the difference between receiving good things from God and taking what we want on our own terms.

Our own terms usually do not include God, and this is one reason we are discontent, even when we get what we want. The Lord does not want us to be happy and content apart from Him. He is a relational God and He created us to fellowship with Him and made it possible for us to do so through Christ.

We find an excellent example of today’s lesson in the parable of the prodigal in Luke 15. While this parable is more about the father than the son, for our purposes today we will look at the son.

You probably know the story already- the son wanted his inheritance, and used it to obtain all the things the world had to offer. He was overconfident and self-righteous and thought he knew what he needed to make him happy. By the biblical account, he lived a self-indulgent life that was full of parties and immorality. He indulged in all the sin his heart desired, spent all the money, and soon wound up homeless and penniless.

He wound up living in a pig pen.

What he learned was that sorrow, disillusionment and disappointment usually follow decisions and changes we make that are based on emotion and those changeable feelings of ours. We cannot rely on or trust our feelings to guide our lives.

So, if we cannot rely on feelings, or follow our hearts, then what are we to find genuine happiness?

Tomorrow’s post will fill in the blank.

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