Where is true joy to be found?

A few weeks ago I heard a programme on Radio 4 about the subject of “happiness”.  The essence of  the talk was that it should be the duty of  a government to make sure its people were happy.  One specialist after another gave their thoughts on this issue but to my dismay not one mentioned the truth – that  real happiness is to be found in having a relationship with God.  The teaching of Scripture is that God has specially created us for a relationship with Him, and until we have that relationship, true joy and true happiness will always elude us.  It is this search for “happiness within” which brings countless people to  Christ. How often have I  heard the phrase, “I became a Christian because I felt there was something missing in my life”, or “ I sensed there was something “not right” in my heart. I eventually realised  that what I was missing was the Lord Jesus.” etc. etc.  It is having a relationship with Jesus which fills the void and satisfies the “emptiness within” of  which so many speak.  Nothing else works, because that’s the way we have been created!  But that doesn’t stop people trying to find happiness elsewhere!  CS Lewis commented, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us!”  Sadly all too often people try absolutely everything else to find happiness, turning to the Lord only as a last resort when all else has failed!

So what exactly is it about Almighty God which brings so much joy when we have a relationship with Him?  A clue can be found in the pleas of a Hindu priest to a Christian missionary many decades ago. The story goes that when the teachings of Christianity reached a certain area of India for the first time, an elderly Hindu priest approached the missionary.  The Hindu priest humbly pleaded with the missionary to leave the area.  When the missionary asked the reason why, the answer was very revealing – “Because we have no god like your God, we don’t have a god who loves us and cares for us and we don’t have a god who sent his son to die for us.  If you keep on telling the people about your God, they will turn to Him and abandon our temples.”  In short, the reason  WHY having a relationship with God brings “joy within” is because God’s character is altogether lovely and beautiful.  He is the embodiment of pure Holiness and Love – a Being who loves each  individual personally and cares for us all deeply.  Search all the other religions of the world and you will find this is unique to the Christian faith.  It is because of  the beauty of God’s character  that we are exhorted to, “rejoice in the Lord” (Phil 4 v4). Time and again we are told to “rejoice in the Lord” and “delight in Him”.  We delight in Him, because God suffers when we suffer, God grieves when we grieve, He shares all that we go through and He promises that He will never ever leave us or forsake us no matter what.  It is the greatest love story ever told, - that a Creator would suffer for the sake of the beings He created.  To have a relationship with this infinitely loving God is the greatest privilege it is possible to have.  God Himself, or knowing God personally, is our “exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15 v1) and it is in this relationship that true happiness is found.  This is what is missing in so many lives. 

Christiana Tsai was born into a wealthy home in China and raised in a Buddhist home.  Her parents however sent her to a Christian high School warning her to be sure she didn’t fall for Christianity.  That however, is exactly what happened.  She was exposed to the true teaching of Scripture and went on to become one of the most famous Christians in China.  In her autobiography “Queen of the Dark Chamber” she describes how it was the inner joy and happiness  that she got from God, which actually paved the way for her sharing the Christian Faith with her entire family.  This “happiness within” was a sign and witness to them that the Christian God was real.  She stated that when she told her family of her conversion to Christ they reacted with fury and horror.  They snatched her Bible, tore it to pieces and threw it in her face.  Time passed, however until one day one of her eight brothers approached her and said, “I have noticed that in spite of the way we treat you now, you seem much happier than you used to.  Tell me about Christianity and why you became a Christian.  You have something I would like too.”

People seek happiness in all sorts of ways, but true happiness and joy is to be found in God Alone.  This is His gift to those who come to Him and it is a gift available to anyone and everyone no matter what their past may be.