“Happy is the one who endures testing because
when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God
promised to those who love him.”James 1:12 (NET)
Two mothers, let’s call them Mom One and Mom Two, were recently discussing some of the hot-button cultural issues on the table right now concerning identity and sexuality, particularly as those issues relate to their kids. As Mothers of teens, both of them are feeling overwhelmed by how quickly cultural perspectives have shifted in these hyper-sensitive areas. They feel unequipped to deal with it. Like so many others, they are caught in the tension of what used to be versus what is now.
At one point, Mom One threw up her hands in exasperation and said about her daughter,
“I just want her to be happy!”
And that is where the conversation ended.
As she walked away, Mom Two continued the conversation anxiously but quietly in her head:
“Yes…she’s right! Happiness, that’s what I want for my kids, too! But what does that mean? How can a person be truly happy? If my children follow the culture’s lead right now, can I be assured that it will lead them to happiness? I’m not so sure….it’s so confusing!”
Later, it occurred to Mom Two that Jesus touched on the idea of happiness. Maybe He could help? So she dug into the Bible and located that sermon Jesus gave called the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).
In the explanatory notes she noticed the comment that the word “blessed,” which Jesus kept repeating, means the same thing as happy or fortunate. “Aha,” she thought, “I’m in the right place.”
As she reflected on Jesus’ teaching, Mom Two’s concept of happiness became a little deeper and more refined. She found that Jesus described happiness in a completely counter-cultural way, having much more to do with personal character than anything else.
Jesus described the highest form of happiness as something that comes to those who look for it in the right place. To be happy, per Jesus, is to live in radical contrast to this world and to live in relationship with the King of happiness Himself, Jesus Christ.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” – Jesus, Matthew 5:8
In the end, it occurred to Mom Two that the best way to optimize happiness in her children would be to continue praying for and nurturing their faith in Jesus and to tenaciously encourage them to follow His lead – not the culture’s.
After all, no one could fill their hearts like Jesus. He not only taught about true happiness; He died and rose again to put it within reach.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.