That was the title of the Sunday School lesson I taught today. I have been using a series of lessons from Danielle's Place which teach "God Made Me." We've been covering a different body part each week, from eyes to ears, to mouth, feet, and hands. Well, today was the heart. One of the challenging activities was for the kids to find something to be happy about in some sad situations. For the kids, these were things like "you lost your favorite toy" or "your friend was mean to you." Each of the kids had a different scenario, and they were supposed to tell a way they could be happy. It was wonderful to see the way they helped each other to think through these problems, and find ways to deal with them.
I wonder how easy this is for adults.
We live in the Northeastern part of the United States, not far from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The storm, while not hitting us directly, caused quite a bit of damage in our area, and there are still quite a few places without electricity. We are also dealing with a gas shortage in our area, a result of people travelling hundreds of miles to get gas, along with people needing to fuel electric generators.
Add to this the "most important election in history," which has the potential to divide friends, churches, and families, and there seems to be quite a bit to worry about, and very little happiness.
The verse for our lesson was Psalm 144:15b - "Happy is that people, whose God is the LORD."
Can that be it? Can that make all the difference? Can happiness be beyond circumstance, beyond the trials of this life, beyond the politics of the day? Can happiness co-exist with devastation, hardship, shortage, fear, and division?
Can we take a lesson from children, who can find happiness in difficulties?
I hope we can.
I am happy that we were only without electricity for two days, but my heart aches for those who are still without, or worse, are without homes at all, or even worse, have lost loved ones.
I am happy that we had enough gas to get to church today, so that I could teach this lesson, but my heart breaks for my friends and family who don't know Jesus.
I am happy that we live in a democratic republic, where we are able to vote for our leaders, but my heart bleeds for those who live in war-torn, devastated countries which are led by force and fear.
The truth is that no matter how devastating a storm or important an election, these circumstances are only temporary. This world, this time, is not all. There is another world, and another time, and it is open to all who will believe in Jesus Christ. And not just believe he existed, but to believe that he came to set you free, that he came to save you from your sins, that he came to show you the way to the Father. To believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of the Almighty God.
To follow him, is to be able to rise above the difficulties that we face every day, and to do what needs to be done, and at the same time to be happy. To have joy. To be content. To be at peace. To be unafraid.
No one knows when the next big storm will hit. No one knows who the next president will be, and what he will do when he's elected. No one knows what will happen to the economy. But we can know that our future is in God's hands. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39. And that's all that really matters.