Saturday, March 9, 2019

Cashing in on Happiness

On a leisurely Saturday morning, I clipped coupons from a local supermarket calendar and set out to redeem them. The first was for Grandma’s Deli Salad, but I couldn’t find that brand. I asked the deli worker who called her manager. Looking puzzled, he said he had never heard of the brand and pointed out the coupon was for “participating stores.”

He did offer to let me use the coupon for any salad I wanted, but the coupon was good for a “1 pound” container and all those available were 15 ounces. So I shuffled it to the back of the pack.

I continued through the store looking for store brand this and that, but they too were unavailable. At checkout I offered the coupons for the brand name items I had found, but the bar code was missing. The clerk called her manager who keyed in the coupons individually. Everyone was so helpful, even though they were unfamiliar with the coupons.

As I drove home it struck me. Those coupons may have been from a different

That reminds me that I sometimes look for happiness in life in one place when I should be looking for it in another. I may look for happiness in relationships, in experiences, in success. And I may find a measure of happiness in those places, but true happiness must be rooted in Christ.

For example, if I expect my spouse to always make me happy, I am sure to be disappointed. Spouses are not perfect. And even if they were, our expectations may differ. Perhaps I expect my husband to do half the housework, to earn an income that pays for all my wants, to talk when I want to talk and be quiet when I want quiet. That is simply unrealistic. A spouse may make a partner happy some of the time but not all of the time. That’s just the way it is. He is not perfect.

But if I am rooted in Christ, I realize that He is the only source of Perfection. I grow in Him as I follow His commands. His Golden Rule tells me to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. That means I must give my spouse space and make allowances, just as he does for me. As author Gary Thomas writes, marriage may be designed to make us holy rather than happy.

Perhaps I look for happiness through success in my work. Here again, Christ’s definition of success may differ from mine. I may equate success with the size of my paycheck, but Christ may consider me successful if I help others. It’s sometimes hard to do both. A business owner is accountable to treat his or her employees with integrity, to pay fair wages, to make allowances for extenuating circumstances. That’s what Christ would do--even though it may cut into business profits.
My point is that just as I tried to cash in my coupons in the wrong store, I may
be trying to find happiness in the wrong places. If Christ is my first priority, then I need to look at my relationships, my work, my experiences through His eyes. And in doing that, I find what I’m looking for.

That doesn’t mean that I never face challenges. In fact, there may be more challenges as a Christian than as a non-Christian. It does means that Christ offers peace in the midst of challenges. If I’m diagnosed with a terminal illness, I can rest in the fact that heaven awaits. If I’m saddled with an angry boss, I can rest in the fact that God may have sent me to be a comfort to someone who covers his pain with anger. That doesn’t make my job easier, but it helps me deal with my every day misery in a godly way. And that brings peace to my soul when I lay my head on the pillow.

So what are you searching for? And where are you looking? Don’t look to Christ as
a last resort. Look to Him first and watch Him smooth the wrinkles of life. He’s the only One Who can cash in your coupon for happiness.

No comments: