Happy New Year!?
Happy New Year! May you prosper and be in good health in 2018!
And so our greetings go, as we make resolutions to make our own coming year better than the last. The changing of the calendar brings making resolutions, thoughts of new beginnings, and hope and plans for days to come.
That’s fine and good, and I do wish for you a good year in 2018.
However, while scanning New Year’s greetings on Facebook and seeing repetitious greetings of “Happy New Year,” it occurs to me that we should all be radiating happiness throughout the year if these wishes come to pass.
And then I question, is that our goal in life? To be happy? For many, I believe that could be a major life goal. If not a personal goal, many parents have happiness as a primary goal for their children. I’ve often heard, “I just want (my child) to be happy.”
The words of our mouth reveal a lot about our hearts. Close behind wishes for happiness is the desire for prosperity and good health.
But, is that God’s desire for us?
I’d answer a qualified “yes and no.” Yes, God wants to bless us.
However, there is a major problem in that all our wishes (happiness, prosperity, health, . . .) are focused on us. On us–as individuals–having a fantastic life.
I believe God wants to bless us, but for our focus to be on our well-being conflicts with God’s directive for us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33) and with the Lord’s example of sacrificially laying down His life for others.
Jesus did not seek happiness for Himself, He sought life for others, for sinners, for us.
Furthermore, the words in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) for happy are usually translated as “blessed.” It is clear that God desires that we be blessed—and that all good things (and thus blessings) come from Him (Jas 1:16-17).
I won’t go into it deeply, but the biblical use of the term does not lend itself well to the understanding that God’s goal for us is happiness as we think of it. That is, not unless we are happy when we mourn and are persecuted (Mt. 5;4-12).
There is nothing wrong with being happy, healthy, or wealthy. Indeed, it seems the Lord delights in blessing us with such. Look at the wealth of Abraham, of David, and Job. Job was healthy and wealthy before the Lord allowed him to be tested and he was stripped of everything. But, then the Lord restored all that had been stripped from him.
Our problem isn’t that we are wishing for things that are bad, or that our wishes are bad.
Our problem comes when we look at ourselves, seek for ourselves, and seek ways to achieve those goals by ourselves. If all our goals are met in our lives without the Lord, they are empty and fleeting.
Our wishes for a happy New Year are abundant, seem reasonable, and thus could lead to an expectation for happiness, thus encouraging life goals and choices that please “me” rather than my seeking to please God.
But self-centered happiness leads to emptiness, destruction, and death—not blessed happiness that is from God and springs from the heart rather than from the circumstances.
And yet, I wish you a Happy New Year.
By that, I mean that I pray that the Lord will bless you in the coming year with His love, joy, and peace and that He will give you the grace and strength to stand strong for Him as you face the trials and temptations that you encounter.
Happy New Year!