The other day, I read about a ranking of all of the "happiest states" in the US. Iowa ranked 27th. It got me thinking about happiness. I don't really know how the state you live in should have an affect on how happy you are. I don't believe that what soil I stand on is what will make me happy. I don't believe that if I step outside or look out my window and see mountains or the ocean, I will be happier than when I look outside and see a cornfield or a city. I find it strange that there is even a way to rank which states are happier than others. Of course I am happy when I am on vacation or when I have a day off. Why? Not because I am surrounded by mountains or palm trees or the beach...because I am free of stress and work. I am surrounded 24 hours a day by the family or friends I am with. I have not a care in the world besides enjoying my surroundings for that short period of time. I am taken away from my day to day surroundings to experience something different and new.
I have found in my life that happiness is temporary and short lived. Joy is something that is long term, that is lasting. I don't long for happiness really. I am a joyous person, I can find happiness nearly anywhere. I have joy in my heart that I found only the Lord brought me. His presence in my heart filled all the empty spaces that used to exist...He filled them with joy. I get joy through Him because of the hope that I feel in hard times, times when I am unhappy. I know that through Him, there is hope for a better day to come, for a lesson to be learned or bigger things to come to my life that I can only dream of. In tough times, I used to think, "why is this happening? I know God wants me to be happy." I don't think those things anymore. I don't try to get those answers. He never promised an easy road, He never promised a life here on earth without pain and suffering, but still we can find joy in Him...even through the suffering. I believe I have. Of course, I have days when I am down, I have difficult times when I can't find a positive thought in my mind, I have times when I wonder if things will ever get better. Deep down, though, I have joy in my heart no matter what.
I used to always be searching for something to make me happy. I would want a new car or a new apartment or house, I would search for happiness in the racks of clothes and shoes at my favorite stores, I would search for it in my favorite restaurant (this one's a hard habit to break!) or grocery store, I would always be on the hunt for a new or better job that would make me happier. I would get something new and be "happy", but that was temporary, so I'd search for something else to fill that void when that happiness wore off. I realized about 4 years ago why that was. It was because I had no JOY in my life...in my heart. I didn't have the joy in my heart and in my life that would make everything else fall into place, that would allow me to find happiness in my day to day life, joy that was permanent, that wouldn't go away. I didn't have the Lord. My life has never been the same since I allowed Him into my heart...since I allowed Him to fill me with this joy. It doesn't matter what state I am in, what country I'm in, what house I live in, what car I drive, what clothes I'm wearing...HE is always with me and HE is who brings joy to my life!
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be joy revealed in us. -Romans 8:18