I don’t know anybody who loves to be unhappy. People want to be happy. I want you to be happy. I want to be happy, too.
But happiness can be illusive and the pursuit of it sometimes include bad decisions that look like a step to happy but turn out to be mostly a pathway to sadness. This reality is based on where happiness comes from: Happiness depends on what happens. And what happens can be sad. A lot of what happens is uncontrollable by you or me or anybody.
There is an ancient letter in your Bible that addresses not the pursuit of happiness but the spiritual experience of joy. It’s funny how things have not changed all that much in thousands of years.
Joy is possible, the letter says, when a person is rightly related to God, no matter what other circumstances are slapping that person square in the face (and heart).
Paul said he was joyful when he wrote the letter from prison, even though he was thinking about possible execution.
The people in the city of Philippi were joyful even though they were poor and mostly struggled to make ends meet.
The pursuit of joy—not happiness—is a timely matter, which is why we’ll undertake the journey together every Sunday for the next five weeks in a sermon series from Philippians.