Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy to Be Here

By Elaine Hardt ©2008
Photo by Joy Hardt ©2003

Contentment in the midst of a demanding, busy schedule seems impossible. Circumstances may have intervened to disrupt a pleasant and successful lifestyle. Some people might not be able to say, “I’m happy to be here.” You might be one of them.

To be happy —right now, right here— would include such facets as physical location, emotional level, social interaction, and spiritual well-being. Give yourself a quick check-up.

1. Physical location. If you have a peaceful acceptance of where you are living, where you are working, then that is a positive plus.

Consider Mary and Joseph. He was a carpenter in Nazareth, but they had to go to Bethlehem for the census. Some Bible scholars suggest that Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus might have lived there for some months. When Joseph was warned to escape to Egypt it was another change of location, but that brought them safety and contentment, as long as they knew that’s where God wanted them to be. (Matthew 2)

2. Emotional level. If you are happy, even in the midst of unsettled situations and with an uncertain future looming ahead, then you’re learning to trust the Lord. If you know God is with you, His promises are true, and your eternal future is secure in Him, then you can tame your misbehaving emotions with little reminders.

Picture young Daniel, captured by a foreign government and taken to that location. Does he stew, fuss, complain to everyone, or quietly go ahead? He did speak up about eating the king’s unhealthy foods, and they gave him slack. Soon we read that he was considered one of the kingdom’s “wise men,” and he rose to prominence. He must have been stable in his emotions because he knew that was where God wanted him to be, at that time. (Daniel 1)

3. Social Interaction. If your dealings with some other person or people is on the ragged edge this is the time to take a step back and quietly analyze what’s going on. If they’re not going to change, then can you change? This is obviously a matter for prayer; it may be a nudge to a thoughtful new outlook.

For one example, look at young Isaac walking up the mountain, carrying a load of firewood. His father walks alongside, and they talk. Not every young person interacts so calmly with their parents. Startlingly, Isaac is going to be offered to God on an altar, but at the last moment God calls it off, and father and son must have had an interesting conversation on the walk back. (Genesis 22)

4. Spiritual well-being. If you feel a little uneasy about your walk with the Lord be thankful that He is bringing some issue to your attention. Take time out for a personal talk with Him. Don’t expect to flip your Bible open and point your finger at random to a verse and let that be your guidance system. Read a chapter now, plan to continue reading tomorrow. What example or admonition is God showing you here?

Consider Jesus, praying alone in the garden at night. He cries out to God, asking if there’s any other way, but then yields, “Thy will be done.” He had God’s peace about it. (Matthew 26)

Does this mean putting on an artificial smile, ignoring what’s going on, being tolerant with everyone and everything? No. Jesus did not tell His disciples to be careless. Among His final words He commanded them to go, make disciples, baptize and teach. (Matthew 28). How could these men who had never been to college or seminary possibly undertake such a huge task? Jesus assured them, “Surely I am with you always,” and “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” (Acts 1)

If here is where the Lord wants you to be, then you have the best reason to be happy. You don’t have to figure it out, tough it out, and pretend to be happy. Even without a big grin you can have a satisfying happiness in your heart, knowing Who He is and what He has said. He wants you to trust and obey, not to earn your salvation, but to grow into greater maturity.

Learning how to be genuinely happy here and now takes a love relationship with the Lord and a trusting heart. His peace will be with you! + + +