The word happiness comes from the same word, “hap,” as happen does. For many people, happiness depends on what happens. But real happiness has a far different basis. It is an inner sense of joy, regardless of circumstances.
You can choose to be joyful, in spite of what happens to you. Remember the story from Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were thrown in jail? They had been humiliated and severely beaten, unjustly punished. And what were they doing at midnight? Rejoicing! Singing! They were strong in the Lord because of their joy.
Medical science is rediscovering the beneficial effects of a cheerful, positive outlook on physical health. Of course, the Bible has known this all along! The writer of Proverbs found that “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (17:22). Being happy is an important part of being healthy.
Happiness begins outside ourselves, in the God who delights in us and wants us to delight in him. Psalm 1:2 says of the truly happy person, “his delight is in the law of the Lord.” In Psalm 37, we are advised not to fret or worry. Instead, “Trust in the Lord, and do good… Delight yourself also in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (3-4).
On the eve of his own crucifixion, Jesus promised, “These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). In this world of suffering and trouble, to people in despair, to people fighting terrible battles, Christ comes and gives them victory over all. And they are filled with joy. That joy permeates both their soul and body; they are able to live life “more abundantly” (John 10:10).
When we find our happiness in God, he grants our deepest desires, and inward joy is matched by outward satisfaction and well-being.