Are You Afraid to be Happy?

By Linda Tancs

Does happiness seem elusive to you? Do you go about daily life “waiting for the other shoe to drop”? Like Job, do you fear that something will come upon you (Job 3:25)? You’re not alone. According to a study published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, people across 14 different cultures identified with statements like “having lots of joy and fun causes bad things to happen.” Clearly, there’s a universal need to control bad thoughts. Such thoughts lead to bad words and bad, unhealthy actions. Jesus came so that we might have and enjoy life, not fear it (John 10:10).

So what are some steps you can take to control your thoughts? Second Corinthians lends imagery of taking thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Imagine taking bad thoughts and banishing them to a prison cell. Envision locking the cell door. Now replace each bad or negative thought with a biblical thought. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God’s plans, or thoughts, are for our welfare. That doesn’t mean we never have a reason to be unhappy; rather, we should look to God to turn our trials into triumphs in due season. What can you focus on that’s pure, lovely, praiseworthy, commendable, honorable or excellent (Philippians 4:8)? Accentuate the positive, as the old song goes. Maintaining a positive focus will renew your mind (Romans 12:2) and bring God’s peace (Romans 8:6). You can’t be both peaceful and unhappy.

Hope Springs Internal

By Linda Tancs

What is hope? Dictionaries define hope as a belief that something is attainable. Biblically, we can define it as trusting, leaning on and relying on God to deliver us in every situation (Psalm 25:2). Hope begins on the inside with an expectation that God will provide whatever we need, both externally and internally.

So what happens when we lose hope? Proverbs 13:12 says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Unlike deferred compensation in the business realm (which will get to you eventually), deferred hope is a loss of expectation, a state of despair. Despair provokes the attitude that it’s useless to hope for a better tomorrow.

Innumerable situations are ripe for producing despair, like the loss of property from a natural disaster, long-term unemployment, domestic abuse and chronic health conditions. How do you rekindle hope when you’re hurting? Romans 15:13 reminds us that God is our source of hope. When you place your faith and trust in Him, then the Holy Spirit works in you to restore hope.

Let go and let God. That’s what Job did. A man of exemplary faith, he never lost hope in God despite traumatic loss of his family, wealth and health. His persevering faith was rewarded in the end with a restoration of his fortunes. And, in the end, (like Job) the fulfillment of your hope will be a tree of life as promised in Proverbs, mending your heart, mind, body and spirit.