Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
What makes you happy? Research has shown that many factors affect our experience of happiness. Our financial situation, health, family, friendships, and work all play a role, according to researchers. However, when pollsters talked with individuals, a vast majority of people report that it is the relationships in their life that brings them the most happiness. Spouses, children, co-workers, and friends are what people say bring happiness into their life.
This is important to consider what has happened since the recovery from the Great Recession of 2009. It isn’t unusual that during the recession, polls indicated that people were becoming more unhappy. What is surprising is that after the recession ended and we experienced economic recovery, polls continued to show a downward trend of happiness in the United States.
The reason may very likely be related to more and more people feeling isolated relationally. Even though the economy has improved since the recession, people don’t feel happier because many people feel disconnected and alone.
Look at what Paul says in Philippians 2:19, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.” Paul wanted his heart to be cheered. He wanted to feel happy. He knew that meaningful relationships with others are a primary source of happiness. It isn’t wrong that Paul wanted to experience that lifting of his spirits. Not only was it not wrong, but it was also right and good to seek cheer through the avenue God had provided: relationship with others in Jesus.
You would think if Paul wanted happiness, he would have sought a change in his situation: freedom from jail, improved living conditions, ample resources so he would no longer have to depend on the generosity of others, or a better reputation in the community. As good as these things are, Paul knew they would not provide happiness. What would cheer his heart? Connections with those he cared about in Christ would bring true cheer and happiness.
It might be worth thinking about what we do when we are feeling down. Often, we will consider booking a vacation we can anticipate. Or, we might plan to go to a movie or read a book we enjoy. Some of us will make a purchase we have been considering. All these things are good, and even gifts of God from His creation. However, we must also recognize that God made us in His image, so we are designed to be most satisfied with the relational connections we have with others.
If we are feeling isolated from loved ones, we might need to do some work to restore those connections. Are there things I need to recognize that are my responsibility to correct and repair? Are there honest conversations that need to occur? Do I need to ask forgiveness? Do I need to seek the help of a counselor to navigate relational difficulty? It may seem that reconnecting where brokenness has occurred is too difficult. But the reward is great because it is relationships with others in Christ, where we experience the happiness that God graciously provides.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Philippians 2:19-24.
See you Sunday,