The pursuit of happiness

Friday 02 October 2020

This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8 v 10

A few years ago I had the joy of speaking at the wedding of couple who had grown up with Jane and myself through our youthwork. Both were committed Christians and wanted me to give a clear Christian message that was engaging and creative, as most of their friends and family were not Christians. I already had a reputation that my wedding talks through not fault of my own, were sometimes misinterpreted with a little innuendo, much to the amusement of the guests. This talk was no different, despite meticulously going over what I would say to make sure it could not be misunderstood. It was the sniggers of the best man that gave it away as one of my famous magic tricks went epically wrong. At the reception some of the couple’s friends said how much they connected with the talk, they found it down to earth, humorous and for the first time really understood the Christian message. Wow! I thought and I was just about to offer to pray with them and seal the deal, when they said they atheists and didn’t need God to give  purpose and happiness in their  lives, as they found that in many other things all of which were healthy and good. I was stunned, into silence.

 I guess that is the position of many 1000’s of people who hold a secular worldview. I have pondered this further and I wonder what happens when the things we depend on to give life purpose and happiness are lost. I think will can all identify with this when the things we depend on for happiness are gone or damaged, or no longer give the same joy. Then happiness, contentment, peace can be lost and replaced with sadness, depression and a sense of purposeless which then can take the drivers seat in life.  If estimates are right our communities are facing huge increases in mental health, which were already increasing pre COVID. Is there a connection? A complex and not one simple answer I’m sure.

But what is our response to be as Christians? We know as we are not immune to the suffering and difficulties of life nor from lows or depressions. Our bible reading today features Paul who some would term either bordering on madness or someone who has discovered a secret key to A JOY FILLED LIFE in all circumstances. The letter he writes to the Philippians is a Joy filled letter and from someone who is in prison, having lost freedom, and many others things is remains incredibly joyful, positive and encouraging is an inspiration to us to follow. We have the reason and the potential to be the most joy filled, positive, hopeful people on the planet, lets chew over these words. The Joy of the Lord is our strength “. Pauls secret of JOY was simple For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1 v 21”. I hope you with join me wrestling how to apply this to our bumpy lives and best we can let joy flow to the world around us “

Love Mark & Jane

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Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
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