Are you a happy person? Do you feel like getting up in the morning, that you’re contributing something of value to the world, and that life is actually fun? Or do you struggle to drag yourself out of bed and fumble through your day without purpose or meaning? There are various forces at work which impact our motivation and joie de vivre–our joy of living–but there is one root issue which, if unresolved, will continue to plague us even if we get everything else right.
“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:15-16 NIV)
Our lives are a composite of multiple factors which impact our well-being and happiness, not the least of which is physical health. It is difficult to be cheerful if we are distracted by pain, and a lot of what people attribute to sheer grumpiness–especially in older people–is the result of having to tolerate physical pain on an ongoing basis. Even without actual pain there can be the absence of genuine health, with or without a concurrent diagnosis of identifiable disease: you may not know what ails you, just that you don’t feel quite right. But what can you do?
The first and most obvious thing we should do if we don’t feel well physically is to make sure we are right with God. It may seem counter-intuitive, because the first thing most people think of–which might certainly also be necessary–is calling a doctor. Yet it is very difficult to be right emotionally and physically if we are wrong spiritually because these supposedly separate aspects of our life all intertwine within us and affect our entire self. Jesus understood this: that is why in addition to making the blind see and the lame walk–very tangible healing of the body–He also forgave their sins–a healing of the soul. And while not all illness is necessarily caused by sin (witness the comments of Paul to Timothy regarding his ailment), people are amazed by how much more physically well they find themselves after agreeing with God and turning from their sins, because a bad conscience exerts a genuinely debilitating influence on our bodies.
After we deal with a bad conscience and make things right with God (as well as any others we have wronged), we should then also ask God for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5 NIV) Wisdom is the understanding of how to rightly govern our lives: it involves understanding and applying the Word of God, as well as how to relate it to the issues of daily life.
Wisdom tells us to work before we play, and to always do our best. It tells us to find out and do what keeps our bodies healthy–such as getting sufficient sleep, nutritious foods and nutrients, and exercise–so they do not fail us prematurely. It tells us to actively choose friends who will influence us toward good behavior rather than bad instead of merely falling in with whatever crowd accepts us because “he who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” It tells us to be diligent in taking care of issues than need our attention now instead of letting them snowball into a later catastrophe which will cause us needless bad stress. It also tells us to be good to ourselves, too–to do what lightens our spirits as long as it’s not sinful–whether it’s a bubble bath, a hobby we enjoy, or a good book or other activity.
Ultimately, wisdom tells us “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4) God is a God of joy; He genuinely wants us to be happy! When we are right with Him and are living our lives in a way that lines up with His plans for us, He gives us joy and a desire to live and accomplish and be productive–to want to get up in the morning.
Remember God’s message to Jeremiah? “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) Know with certainty that He loves His own with a deep and genuine abiding love!
So, are you a happy person? Do you feel like getting up in the morning? If not, get right with God and seek His heart (and His Word!) for wisdom. Remember that “…He gives generously to all without finding fault!”
Help me delight myself in You, that You may give me the desires of my heart! Amen.