If you read my last post, you know that this week I’m talking about joy and how to get more of it in your life. Who couldn’t use more joy these day, right? To start off with let me ask you a question, have you ever noticed that we are living in an amazing world in an amazing time with technology that our grandparents and even our parents could never have even imagined and yet… nobody is happy?

Take your cell phone for instance.  If you think about what this little device can do for us it’s truly incredible.  It’s a camera, it’s a phone with your entire phone directory, it can text and email, if you are lazy and don’t want to type out your texts and emails, you can simply talk into it and it will do the typing for you.  This device can hold every song you have ever purchased and if you simply hit a button you can say, “Siri, play My Sharona” and it she will do it for you.  Or you can create a station that only plays your music; so if you just want big hair 80’s metal or 90’s grunge or Justin Bieber and Friends, it will just play that kind of music (although I have to admit I don’t know why anyone would want to only listen to Justin Bieber). This little device is a GPS that can keep you from getting lost (in theory anyway).  It’s a computer; In fact, the computer you are holding in your hand has more computing power than the computer that launched the first rockets to the moon.  Here are some other things that your smart phone can do: you can use it to calculate equations, check sound levels, check the weather, keep track of how many steps you’ve taken, read the latest news, check in on what the Chargers score is, check your Facebook status, wake you up in the morning, pay your bills and find out really important information like what is the name of the actor who played Gibby in iCarly.

It’s amazing what this one little device can do and ten years ago it didn’t even exist.  Hard to believe but the iPhone has only been in existence since June, 2007; that’s less than 9 years ago, for you mathmeticians out there. Before 2007, we had to carry a discman, a phone directory, an alarm clock, a computer, a map, a calculator, a camera, and a photo album. Now this device has made most of those items obsolete.  That being said, how often do we find ourselves angry and frustrated with this device?  Honestly, think about it.

It’s hard to comprehend that we hold a computer in our hands that can show us the best burger place within 3 miles, can give us answers about that suspicious mole on WebMD, and play Purple Rain and still we’re frustrated by it.  This little phone actually makes us angry and steals our joy.

Everything is Amazing but Nobody’s Happy

Let me give you my perspective on technology and let me know by commenting on this blog if you agree:

There will be advancements made in the next 10 years that will radically alter the way we live and they will, at least initially, blow us away. But what they won’t do is lead to lasting joy. They won’t make us happier; in fact, you will probably notice that the opposite is true; that each advancement leads people farther and farther away each other and from true happiness.

That certainly is true of the iphone.  Ten years ago I would have had no idea that that concert happened and my friends went but didn’t invite me and I wouldn’t have to feel bad about my car because my friend Mike just posted the picture of his new car and I wouldn’t have heard about your vacation to Maui while I was on my vacation to see grandma and grandpa in green valley Arizona.

[bctt tweet=”We live in a world where everything is amazing yet no one is happy” username=”canyon_springs”]

We live in a world where everything is amazing.  But are we happier?  Are we more fulfilled?  I’m not so sure.

In my last post, I introduced one of my favorite Biblical heroes: Paul, a man who was able to find and keep his joy despite the fact that he was living in chains, in prison. And we started exploring several myths that we tend to believe about Joy from Paul’s perspective. Here’s the second one:

Myth #2:  I can’t be happy unless my circumstances are right

Not only do I have to have my life together, like I discussed in my last post, but all the circumstances of my life need to be good as well.

In order to be happy….

  • My house needs to be in order
  • I need to be in a good place financially
  • My relationships need to be working
  • I need to be in the popular group
  • I need to have close friends nearby
  • I need to be dating someone
  • My marriage needs to be working (Those are two different people.  I’m not saying that I need to be dating someone and have my marriage working.  From what I’ve heard that’s not a good idea)
  • My kids need to be treating me with respect
  • My parent need to stop bugging me

We have the same problem with our circumstances that we do with trying to have all of our stuff together.  It’s simply never going to happen. Those planets will just never align. Just when things are looking good, something bad happens. Am I right?

  • You’re car will break
  • You’re boyfriend will break up with you
  • Your job will get crazy
  • Your kid will hit a rough place
  • Your coach won’t like you
  • You’ll get a bad teacher
  • Someone important to you will get sick

Paul knew that. That’s not how Paul lived his life.  Look with me at Philippians, verse 12:

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without 

Paul has absolutely no reason to be happy; he’s in jail, in chains, his meal plan is terrible, but yet what is he talking about? Paul isn’t complaining; instead he’s excited because his circumstances are advancing his cause.  His situation is encouraging the people around him so he is rejoicing.

Find Joy No Matter Your Circumstances

We have to figure out some way in our own lives to be more like Paul; to find joy regardless of circumstances. Otherwise we will never find it.  Before we move on I want you to notice how the first two myths work together.

You are not complete.  You still have lessons to learn.  There are still areas of weakness.  You need to get deeper.  More mature.  (For more explanation, see 3 Myths of Joy, Part 1). So how do we do that?  Here’s how God gets you to that place of completeness and maturity:  Hard circumstances.  Broken relationships.  Hardship at school.  Feelings of rejection.  Difficult financial situations.  There is nothing that grows us, matures us, deepens us like rough circumstances.

I’m guessing you’re going through something hard right now.  Everyone is. We try to keep it hidden, but everyone is.  Let me give you the truth about that hard time your working through.  That difficulty will be the thing that grows you more than all the good times and amusement parks and good prom dates.  I grew up with a dad that drank.  Now you know why I do what I do today.  I am the pastor of Canyon Springs church not in spite of the hard times I went through, but because of them.

Nothing grows us like hard circumstances.  If it’s hard to see the good in your rough circumstances, here it is: God’s growing you.  He’s deepening you.  And the day will come when he uses that tough time in your life to help someone else who is going through a similar situation.  You’ll help someone walk through a break up.  You’ll be there for someone who’s depressed.  You’ll be able to comfort someone who feels insecure. When that happens, all of a sudden all of the hard times you went through will come into perspective.  You’ll see the purpose to them.  And you’ll feel a joy you never imagined.

So the next time you hit a rough patch in life, or if you are in one now, do not despair. As James wrote, “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds” because it is in these times that God is working on you; God is completing you.

Don’t wait to be happy. No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, go out today and be joyful.