The Pursuit of Happiness
by Tricia Goyer
Each day there are many things that fight against our happy hearts. Little things like getting a stain on your favorite shirt or forgetting about a meeting or a meet-up with a friend. Other things weigh heavy on our thoughts: wars and rumors of wars, illness, loss. When it comes to feeling a sense of happiness, it's as if we're facing a losing battle. Unless we understand what true happiness is.
Happiness stems from our hearts, but not in the way you think. The world says, "follow your heart," yet God says differently when it comes to happiness. Jesus said in John 14:1, “Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (NLT). Happiness is not an emotional thing. It's a positional thing. We are children of God, and we have access to Him at any moment of any day. He is with us. The pursuit of happiness is actually the pursuit of God.
The Pursuit of Happiness Is Actually the Pursuit of God
What would it be like if you woke up tomorrow and spent five minutes opening God’s Word and seeking whatever good news and blessing God had for your heart? How would things change?
I read God's Word, and I find happiness in my moments with Him. I pray and settle my heart on Jesus. I turn my thoughts to His big plans for me, my family and the world, and then I look at my to-do list in light of that. Only then can I bravely face the demands of my day.
Our soul, which includes our personality, emotions and values, also needs to be surrendered to God. As we give God access to our heart and soul, we break away from what holds us back and learn to live God's abundant life.
Our hearts are not something that need to be beaten into submission by our iron will or flailing fists. Instead, we offer our souls to God and work alongside Him to tend them.
The Middle English root word for “tending” means “to move or be inclined to move in a certain direction.” The goal here is not to perfectly practice soul care by forcing oneself to be happy in the Lord. I guarantee there's nothing perfect to my tending. Instead, the goal is to make positive changes to cultivate a happy heart. This happiness (often translated as “blessed”) doesn't entail just sitting around, hoping God will send a blessing down. Instead, it's choosing to take the proper steps toward God.
Tending our souls and focusing on being heart happy isn't something we'll figure out overnight. In a world of quick fixes, tending takes time. But instead of being discouraged, let's consider this good news. We can lower our expectations concerning suddenly “being fixed.” One small change leads to another change.
Actual change—heart-happy change—comes from the inside out. The closer I grow to Jesus, the more I allow him to “do His good work” within me. I am different because of my love for Him and my willingness to let Him do a good work in my heart. Only this kind of change will last.
A happy heart that’s in the process of being transformed by Jesus changes our view of our circumstances, not the other way around. And this good work happens as we meditate on God’s Word.
The Pursuit of Happiness Involves Taking Time to Meditate on God’s Word
To truly get our hearts “happy in the Lord,” we must do more than simply read a devotional book or a few Scriptures each day. Instead, here is a way to allow God's Word to sink into our hearts. I call this the “Notice, Repeat and Praise” method. After you choose a section of Scripture to read, go deeper in these three ways:
Notice what God is doing—in Scripture, in the world and your life. How is God acting? What promises is He giving in His Word? Where can you see Him at work? Notice them and write them down.
Repeat what He says. What are the words of Scripture speaking to your heart? Say them aloud.
Praise His actions. Glorify God for who He is, all He’s done and all He will continue to do.
The Purpose of the Pursuit
The purpose of opening God’s Word shouldn’t be focused on learning everything we possibly can about Scripture. Yes, we do want to learn to understand God’s Word. But even more than that, it's also important to allow the Spirit of God to speak to our hearts as we read.
It's amazing how God's Word can nourish our hearts if we allow it. We don’t have to figure out all the nuances of Scripture. Instead, each day we can turn to God’s Word and seek to understand one small truth.
As we open the Bible and read, there will be things we don't fully understand. Therefore, biblical meditation is different from popular meditation as it does not consist of emptying our minds of all thoughts. Instead, Scripture nourishment, prayer and listening to God's voice focuses on the verses before us, pondering them and asking Jesus to open our minds to understand them.
The thing about pursuing happiness is that we'll never find it without God. Yet when pursuing God, we always find true heart happiness along the way. Our life's circumstances may be difficult, but God is always faithful. The key to having a happy heart is looking up . . . into Jesus' face.
Want to learn more about soul care and having a Happy Heart? Heart Happy: Staying Centered in God’s Love through Chaotic Circumstances will inspire you to stay tethered to the Lover of your soul. By taking time to make your heart happy in the Lord, you’ll grow closer to the Heavenly Father, fostering true transformation from the inside out. Peace and joy can be yours—no matter what life dishes up.
Tricia Goyer dared to believe as a 17-year-old mom that God could do something with her life. He has in amazing ways. A homeschooling mom of ten, including seven by adoption, Tricia is also a wife to John and a grandmother. Tricia is a speaker, podcast host and USA Today bestselling author of over 80 books. Tricia loves to mentor writers through WriteThatBook.Club. Tricia lives near Little Rock, AR. You can connect with her at www.TriciaGoyer.com