It’s that time of year again.
The time where the post-holiday haze left us feeling plumper, slower, and all-around less productive. As December rolled into January and we reflected on 2018, many of us decided to set resolutions for 2019 - goals that we believe will make us more productive, more successful, healthier, and happier.
Did you set resolutions this year?
I’m not going to say it’s silly if you did. I’m personally a big advocate for constant self-reflection and goal-setting. My personal list of self-improvement goals for 2019 (my alternative wording to “New Year’s resolutions”) is lengthy, to say the least. Ranging from financial to physical to spiritual goals, there are numerous tasks I desire to turn into habits to increase my overall well-being.
The concept is simple: set goals, establish “better” routines, be happier.
Isn’t that how we constantly think?
It’s the mantra of every friend who’s trying to sell us something on Facebook, “Just follow the process, and you’ll be happy!”
Except, even when we follow the process, we’re left… empty.
Or, on the other hand, when we give up on the process, we’re still left empty.
As Christians, we already know that worldly elements will never provide true happiness. That can only be found in our salvation through Christ. Yet, time and time again, we fall victim to thinking that we should be happy, or even falling victim to the thought, “God wants me to be happy.”
Driving through Milwaukee with a friend last Spring, he made a statement so simple and already known in my heart, yet impactful: “God never promised that this life would be easy.”
Actually, He promises the opposite. Numerous times in the Bible, God informs us that following Him will lead to hardships on earth. We will be judged, despised, hated, and rejected. In Matthew 16, Jesus commands us to take up our cross and follow him. That means fleeing from temptations, enduring heartaches, and living for Christ in a world that doesn’t want Him.
Recognizing that, it’s difficult to endorse constantly chasing after earthly happiness. Especially when that happiness justifies sin.
As a young Christian in a wicked world, it’s easy to return to the human thought, “God wants me to be happy.” It’s easy to justify drinking too much, using foul language, lying to others, crossing sexual boundaries, elevating false gods, and so on. It’s easier to worship the countless idols of worldly happiness instead of obeying the true God.
The Christian life isn’t going to be easy, but idol worship sure is.
Chasing happiness through inanimate idols may be easy, but it’s by no means fulfilling. God desires for us to live a life that glorifies Him. While this can include setting goals to better ourselves, which may result in happiness, happiness is never going to be our ultimate goal while we walk this earth. We can’t forget that though we feel happiness as a result of these earthly goals, unending happiness, contentment, and peace is found in Him alone.
So, set goals. Chase down your dreams. Find joy in success. However, as you go through the process, let your unwavering happiness flourish as a result of Christ’s love, not brief worldly moments of joy. Let the work you do be to glorify Him, and not yourself. Let the troubles you face be but small woes on the path to eternity.
Christ set a goal, too. He completed it two thousand years ago on Calvary’s hill. He never quit his mission then and won’t abandon you now, though your own resolutions may have already been broken. His victory-caused happiness will never fade.
No resolution will ever top that.