It was always a treat to spend Sunday afternoons at my maternal grandparents’ home in Greene County, Pennsylvania. Most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins would be there, enjoying one another’s company on the front porch of that country house. Individual problems seemed to fade away in this environment. Everyone appeared to be so happy!
After college, I moved to Harford County, Maryland. As the years rolled by, I found pleasure in spending time with my wife and our five children at our home. We had issues, like every other family, yet being together helped to put those difficulties into proper perspective.
I have met wealthy and healthy people, without any significant adversities, who were unhappy. While others possessed joy despite having many afflictions. Why is this?
I remember hearing once that achieving happiness is akin to catching a butterfly. As the story goes, if a person searches long, and struggles hard, he or she might be lucky enough to capture the elusive butterfly called “happiness.”
We should take heed lest we adopt this philosophy because frustration is the sole object which will end up in our net when we chase it. We may even accept the false notion that if we do not attain happiness, we are a failure and our life has been in vain.
Like butterflies, happiness may seemingly come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Wealth is one. Fame, power, beauty, and romance, are others. Indeed, just as people do not always pursue the same type of butterfly, individuals can seek a wide variety of differing pleasures.
For some, happiness is so fleeting, that soon after netting one butterfly they lose interest and crave to add another to their collection. Yet the things of this world cannot fill the genuine longing of our heart. They are simply distractions; clinging to them will hinder our finding legitimate joy in God.
Colossians 3:2 exhorts us to set our affection “on things above, not on things on the earth.” Only by setting our passion on the riches of the Lord’s kingdom, can we satisfy the deep inner hunger of our spirit. Is it God’s plan that we never be happy? Not at all! The Bible shows the way to obtain true happiness. Psalm 144:15 declares, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” And, Proverb 16:20 affirms, “Whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” It is not that God doesn’t want us to be happy, but that far too often we are looking for it in the wrong place.
A person who seeks God will eventually find happiness. But a person who seeks worldly happiness will find only disappointment in the long run. When we desire the Lord above all else, we gain fulfillment and satisfaction for our soul. However, when our primary focus is on acquiring happiness, that butterfly will have us chasing it through many fields of despair.
Psalm 91 explains the great lengths to which God goes to protect someone who highly esteems Him. In verse 14 the Lord declares, “Because he has set his love upon Me, I will deliver him (from all forms of evil).” To set our love upon God is to keep Him foremost in our thoughts and consider Him worthy of our allegiance and praise. Others, who idolize luxuries, may fall into misery. Yet, our ecstasy will remain intact—for our treasure is our relationship with God.
If we think of the happiest moment in our past and multiply it many times over, we still could not come close to the bliss we can experience in Jesus. Truly, putting the Lord first is the secret to attaining spiritual euphoria.
Those who have learned to first set their affection on things above, have no problem receiving from God the good things they need on the earth. These folks are content, having peace that most people inwardly want but never find.
As you and I walk down the road of life, let’s not stress out trying to capture the elusive butterfly of happiness. Instead, let’s wholeheartedly pursue Christ. By doing so, His amazing grace will provide us with greater pleasure than we could ever imagine.
* Excerpt from "The Road of Life (Wisdom for the Journey)" by Pastor Glenn