I love feeling happy. Absolutely love it. Who doesn't? But my pursuit of it has sometimes gotten me into trouble. I'm pretty sure it's gotten you into trouble too.
Sometimes I wonder if, in our mad pursuit of happiness, we run right past the joy that might be ours. We work hard to change our circumstances or change ourselves so that we might be happy. We get ourselves into addictive behaviors (exercise, by the way, is also very addicting; so is organizing your life). Then we work hard to get ourselves out of our addictions, which sometimes only makes matters worse. And all the while, God is right beside us with a gentle invitation to joy. But we can’t hear that invitation while we are focused on whatever it is we think has to happen in order to make us happy.
If we want to live in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, we must first pass through the crucifixion. We must stop running. Self-soothing may last for a moment, but that moment may become a doorway to a cell. Jesus came to set us free, and in Him we can be. But we will not be free if we continue to hide and refuse to face the bitter sorrow that must be braved in order to bear goodness.
Suffering is an essential part of all our lives. And it is when we are in the very midst of it that God reminds us that the absence of suffering is not our good. The presence of God is our good. And knowing His presence in the pain is the sweetest gift of all.