In the Greek language, happy and blessed mean the same thing. Almost anyone reading this—who find themselves sitting in a place peaceful enough to read on a computer—can call themselves blessed. To be blessed, according to the Bible, is to be happy. That makes happiness more than a temporary feeling; it’s a state of being. Does that mean you walk around with a big, goofy grin on your face all the time, reveling in your blessings? Not unless you are somehow able to grin while contemplating algebraic equations, or listening to a hurting friend, or giving a presentation over Greek theater.
No, happiness isn’t a facial expression, or a life free from hardship or trials. In fact, Jesus said we should rejoice when men hate us for His Name’s sake (Luke 6:22,23). Why? Because that suffering gives us greater confidence in our eternity in heaven. True happiness is a deep feeling of security in God’s provision for us on this earth, and His promise to bring us to paradise if we are faithful. Think of this life as the 8-to-5 job that you work for thirty years so you can have a peaceful, pleasant retirement. The job is fulfilling at times, and tedious at others, but it’s your choice everyday to enjoy your job, the people you work with, and the tasks you perform, or to slog through them, counting down the days until retirement.
After all, if this life was nothing but sunshine and laughter all the time, who would yearn for heaven? Days filled with those things are happy, sure, but fleeting. Like love, happiness is a choice that requires ongoing effort.
Paul had the secret to happiness. He learned to be content “in whatever situation” (Philippians 4:11). That word content means “independent of external circumstances.” Our happiness comes only from ourselves. That’s the only thing we have control over in this world. Circumstances change, but we decide how we handle them.
When the going gets tough, the world might say it’s enough to “put on a happy face.” That might help, but it’s not enough. Tough times give us an opportunity to show the serenity, hope, and strength God gives His people. It’s our time to shine, not cry out to God, “Why me?” Paul faced shipwrecks, beatings, hunger, cold, and hatred, but he said he had learned the secret to facing these things: to know that in Christ, he could do anything (Philippians 4:13). We all have access to that strength, but to realize it and use it is what leads us to true happiness.
Happiness is more than a face or a feeling. It’s strength from Christ and hope of heaven. You know what they say about smiling being easier than frowning? Physically, it may be true, but happiness that comes from within actually takes a lot more work than the worldly attitude of negativity, arrogance, or bitterness. So don’t just “turn that frown upside down!” Turn your life upside down: live for Christ, and see how your outlook becomes suddenly, perpetually heavenly.