Are you happy? Regardless of whether you have much or not much at all, are you enjoying your life? As you are busy doing whatever it is God has given you to do, as you do so, being ever cognizant of all the blessings He allows you daily to experience? Do you even realize that He wants you to have an attitude of joy?
“This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 NIV)
Some people have a very distorted concept of what God wants for us. They see life’s difficulties, perhaps experiencing firsthand scarcity which precipitates the necessity of a seemingly nonstop cycle of work merely to pay the bills. Perhaps their physical needs are met but they are in a difficult relationship or they have no relationship at all and are lonely; perhaps their bodies are encumbered with debility or pain–there are so many situations which can affect our mental and emotional well-being and threaten to deprive us of joy. Yet we do not have to have an attitude of unhappiness or misery!
For some reason Christians seem to think the word “fun” is a bad word. They get being diligent–but not necessarily enjoying ourselves as we go about doing whatever it is God has given us to do. And while I understand where this kind of attitude comes from, it is misguided, because enjoying our life is not a sin.
Perhaps because Satan appropriates fun by attempting to deceive us into running after fun or believing sin is fun, Christians tend to associate any kind of fun with sin. Yet innocent fun–an enjoyment of our lives and the blessings God fills them with–is not sin; it is a blessing from God and an attitude that can help us get through the more difficult parts of our lives!
Think about your work. Perhaps you enjoy it, and it’s wonderful if you do. But maybe, like many, you do it because it pays the bills and you have to–not because you love it. But have you ever asked God to make it more pleasant for you? I realize that might sound like an absurd or even frivolous request, but think about it–God loves us, and He cares even about our daily experiences! He is not above causing us to see our work in a different light, or helping us change something which makes us physically healthier and thus better able to enjoy our experiences–such as getting more sleep or adopting a better diet or exercising a bit. He is capable of helping us get better at whatever it is we do, which in turn makes our work more pleasant, because it’s fun to be good at what you do. Ultimately, He can even adjust our actual environment if He so chooses.
I suspect many of us remember the “old man and the fish” story, about a magic fish which grants a fisherman favors until his wife prods him to ask for too much and all is taken away. We are hesitant to use up our “favors” asking God for that which we feel frivolous, such as actually enjoying our work. Yet asking for a good day is not wrong, because God takes no delight in our unnecessary or senseless misery.
James 4:3, the verse some of us might be thinking of, actually teaches us, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NIV) Yet the pleasures it refers to are sinful ones, such as greed or lust or pride–sinful requests like winning the lottery–not for the ability to appreciate fully the blessings God gives. Remember what Jesus said? “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy [that’s what sin and ignorance and foolishness does in our life]. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV) God’s heart is for us to have an abundant life!
Yet this is not the prosperity doctrine. God is not saying that you will be wealthy, or illness-free, or never suffer–to the contrary, it is through suffering that God typically conforms us to the image of Christ, and His people are called to deny the desires that are at odds with His desires for us, pick up our cross, and follow Christ Jesus our Lord. But we need not have an attitude of misery as we do so, and it doesn’t have to be as hard as we frequently make it out to be!
So, are you happy? Do you recognize all the blessings God showers on you daily–a new morning, perhaps even with the absence of pain, or good medicine? The ability to walk, to climb stairs, to breathe? To study, to work, to create or compose or draw? Nourishment for your body? Clean water to drink? A roof over our head, warmth in cold weather, cool in the warm? Other individuals who cross our path with whom we might interact and bless? And this is just for starters–most of us have so much incredibly more! And while He has already given so much, don’t be afraid to ask Him for help with your daily life. He can fully provide you “the ability to enjoy…[what He has given]” and for you to “be happy…[as you do your work]!”
Dear Lord God,
Help me appreciate and enjoy all You give, and
be happy! Amen.