Are you severely depressed? Do you lie awake in bed night after night, worries and anxieties robbing you of sleep? Does your life lack meaning? Or purpose? Have you whole-heartedly pursued relationships, health, hobbies, and more, only to find they still leave you feeling empty? Are you wondering how to feel happy? I mean, truly happy?
I was there once. Despite several things going right in my life at that moment, depression suffocated me most hours of the day. I couldn’t even enjoy the positive aspects of my life.
Anxiety ate me alive all day and night. I was so deeply worried about so many things that I couldn’t focus at work, at the gym, or even out with friends.
It constantly turned my stomach and stole my appetite. The truth is that I was never present, never fully living in the moment, because my mind was always elsewhere.
I felt as if I was simply existing, surviving one day at a time to finally arrive at…nowhere. I had married my “soulmate,” reached my goal weight, and pursued a wide range of extracurricular activities, yet still felt dead and empty inside.
Why weren’t these things delivering the joy and satisfaction they promised? The question tormented me.
The Encounter That Changed Everything
Then I met someone. I met him when I was younger, but had let our relationship fall to the wayside in my pursuit of success, acceptance, and happiness.
People in my life had reminded me of him and encouraged me to reconnect. I had always respected him, but just couldn’t bring myself to reach out; he didn’t fall into line with my lifestyle.
But one day, when the weight of the world and the emptiness in my chest became crushing, I did reach out. By that point, I had nothing to offer him but my empty hands. But he didn’t seem to notice.
He lifted the weight of my depression and patiently chased away my anxieties one at a time, delivering true peace of mind bit by tiny bit. He revealed my intrinsic value and uncovered gifts long dormant within me. When every other person and purchase and accomplishment left me feeling empty, he showed me not only how to feel happy, but how to feel deep and lasting joy.
He didn’t have to help me. He deserved so much better than what I had to offer him. In fact, even if I worked day and night for the rest of my life to amount to something, anything for him, I would have never been good enough.
But, knowing that, he chose to love me anyway. In fact, he sacrificed what was most dear to him…for me. So that we could be together.
Months later, still in the middle of the same circumstances that had previously suffocated me, I experienced the truest form of freedom and joy I had ever felt. Driving in my car with the windows down, I sang and shouted and felt the weight of the last of my burdens fall off of me like heavy chains.
He didn’t have to teach me how to feel happy. His presence and love and grace in my life just made me that way.
Have you guessed who it was? None other than Jesus Christ.
Yes, the one you learned about in Sunday school is still alive and well today. And He’s been pursuing you your entire life.
The Encounter is For All of Us
Friend, if your life feels heavy and burdened and empty, you should know there is someone out there who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NIV).
I know from personal experience this isn’t some empty promise. Jesus is not a well-wishing friend who is nowhere to be found when you’re knee-deep in tragedy and desperate for help.
No, He created you. He sees your thoughts, knows exactly what you’ll say before you say it, is familiar with all of your ways, good and bad, and still loves you fiercely (Psalm 139). He has provided me with a level of relief and support and peace that no human support system could ever offer.
You see, when mankind’s sin separated us from Him, when it kept us from the presence of a holy and perfect God, He didn’t leave the scene. No, he sent His one and only Son as a sacrifice, to rebuild the bridge between us.
Jesus was sent to Earth, unto us. He came not only for the people living on Earth at that moment, but for you. For me.
He was both fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life, then was betrayed by the very people He came to save. They hung Him on a cross, just as I’ve hung Him on a cross countless times in my life.
I’ve denied Him, I’ve purposely chosen to do and say the things He explicitly told me not to, things that pained His heart. I stubbornly chose my own path year after year, pushing down His voice, pushing away His ever-outstretched hand. I’ve nailed Him to the cross over and over.
He knew I would. He knew I would do all of those things and yet, He came for me.
Jesus died on a cross for me. For you. And he rose from His grave three days later, having conquered death and sin forever, for you.
Joy that Lasts is Within Your Grasp
The truth is that without Jesus, you’ll never learn how to feel happy. Your happiness will come and go your entire life, always in danger of leaving at a moment’s notice.
But with Jesus, you’ll deeply know a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and that doesn’t ride the waves of your circumstances. I’ve experienced this truth for myself and I wouldn’t be a good friend to you…or a good person…if I kept this life-changing, life-saving knowledge to myself.
Do you want to know how to feel happy, friend? Are you desperate to find joy that lasts? Take the hand of Jesus.
He will never leave you or give up on you (Deuteronomy 31:6). In His presence, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
P.S. Having trouble reconciling your current trials with your faith? Our latest devotional, Peace in the Valley | 21 Days of Finding Light in the Darkest Hour, was written you for.
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