Last week I had the privilege of going on a vacation to Disney World with my wife and our three children. According to Disney, it is the “happiest place on earth.” Admittedly, we had a wonderful time. We enjoyed the rides, the shows, the pool, the parades, the food, and each other. We have awesome pictures and even better memories of all that took place. It was a very happy week.
But one of the dangers that we needed to avoid was to think that the joy and satisfaction that came from setting aside our normal responsibilities to play and have fun together surpasses the joy and satisfaction that comes from our relationship with the Lord Jesus. In fact, the danger was that our ultimate joy and satisfaction would come from getting whatever we wanted.
- Is true happiness the joy that I receive from walking with the Lord?
- Or is true happiness found in getting the best vacation money could buy?
So, why ask this question on a counseling blog?
I believe it is important to discuss this in the counseling room because people find their greatest joys in other things – especially when there is pain in their lives. Our counselees are looking for a certain kind of pain relief. They crave, desire, and find joy in watching their spouse learn to deal with anger, or in having strategies to handle anxiety or depression, or in reuniting with a spouse or a child. Admittedly, handling anger or anxiety or being reunited with another person are great things and there is a certain amount of joy that comes when those things happen.
But we must be on guard not to allow our counselees to find ALL their joy and satisfaction in the freedom from pain or even to find freedom from pain as their primary source of joy. Just like our family needed to find its first and ultimate joy in the Lord, our counselees must do the same.
So let me encourage you counselors to find joy in your walk with the Lord. Then let me encourage you to help your counselees do the very same thing.
What are the benefits?
I would like to suggest to you that if we are able, by God’s grace, to get the order right (joy in the Lord first, joy in the blessings He brings whether freedom from pain or vacation) then we will be able to give God glory for everything and thus magnify our joy. In other words, I will only get a certain amount of happiness from pain relief, from cool vacations, or nice homes. But when I find my joy in the Lord I experience joy beyond measure.
Let me explain what I mean.
If I find my joy in the Lord first, then that frees me up to thank Him for all of His blessings since I realize that I don’t deserve any of them. This in turn allows me to see His blessings for what they really are – gracious gifts from a loving Father. When I realize all of God’s gracious gifts then that allows me to give Him glory for all that He has brought into my life. Finally, when I am giving him glory I multiply my joy. I am truly happy!
There is an irony here. The more we find joy and satisfaction first in the Lord the more we experience joy in all of the wonderful blessings that He gives us. It does not matter whether those blessings come in the form of a family vacation, whether they come from a reunited relationship, or whether they come from handling an issue of sin or suffering.
Experiencing exponential joy comes only from finding joy in the Lord Jesus first.
If you want to be happy – and I mean really happy – then find your joy in the Lord first. David wrote in Psalm 63:3 “Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise you.”