What do people want more of in life?’ – This was the question writer and researcher Kathy Caprino sought to answer, through a community survey she conducted in early 2016. Caprino surveyed some 700 people and collated their responses, compiling a list of “ten things people want in life but can’t seem to get”. The top of the list? Happiness.

A large majority of people wants to be happy in life, but find it difficult to achieve, let alone maintain. It is sometimes out of reach and hard to hold on to. Happiness is an elusive ideal, more temporary than what human beings expect it to be. It is often tied to the attainment of a goal, for example, getting a pay raise, or finding a life partner. We spend time and effort arranging and planning our lives in certain ways we think will help bring us contentment and happiness. We strive for a particular job or position, a higher pay, or even the latest gadgets, because we think it will increase our well-being and sense of satisfaction in life.

The problem with happiness however, is that it is fleeting. Happiness is dependent on our circumstances and often stems from attaining possessions and achieving worldly goals. Striving for happiness is very much a lost cause as we reach for something that cannot be fully grasped.

God offers us something much deeper and longer lasting than happiness. He offers us the gift of His joy.

While happiness is shallow, joy is deep. Happiness stems from external possessions, but joy is rooted in an inner assurance. Happiness is dependent on circumstances, but joy withstands even the toughest times. Happiness is an emotion, but joy is an attitude. Happiness focuses on what we have, but joy is a result of knowing who we are.

Joy comes from God. It is a deep sense of well-being and blessed assurance that we have an identity and purpose in God. Believing that God is in control and has good plans for our lives helps us cultivate a sense of joy. No matter what happens in the day to day, and in spite of all the ups and downs, we can have joy because we know that God lovingly cares for us and holds us up.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks,
and send some to those who have nothing prepared.
This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve,
for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

(Nehemiah 8:10).

We get tired if we constantly strive for happiness. The gift of joy however is for us to receive freely – with our God-given identity and purpose. Let go of all the striving and receive this joy from Him. It will be our strength for the days ahead.

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