What Would It Take to Make You Happy?
My infertility reminded me of something we all need to learn: the source of true contentment and happiness.
I can still remember the day when the word infertile was written on my medical chart. An emptiness I had never experienced before echoed in my hollow heart. What have I done wrong? Why is God punishing me? Am I not worthy to raise another human being? I prayed, repented of everything I could think of, fasted, and begged God to intervene. I changed my diet, had two exploratory surgeries, injected and ingested hormones, and had timed intimate relations with my husband (which is anything but intimate). I was determined to outsmart the diagnosis.
But it didn’t happen, and I understood the pain of empty arms and missing someone I’d never met. Our five-bedroom dream house was a daily reminder of beds that would not be slept in, toys that would not be scattered, and children that would not be tucked in beds at night.
Steve and I do have one amazing son. Steven Hugh Janes Jr. was born on a frosty February morning, and I never knew so much love could be wrapped in one tiny package. But God closed by womb for the possibility of siblings for him. Steven was conceived with no trouble whatsoever, and we were surprised and brokenhearted when we learned he would be our only child. But through the painful years of infertility, God unfolded a plan, a purpose, and a promise. He began to show me just what I needed to be happy … Him.
The lie in the Garden
The lie “I would be happy if _____” is really nothing new, is it? It’s the same lie the serpent whispered to Eve. You would be happy if you eat the forbidden fruit. Today, he hisses the same worm-ridden lies.
- I would be happy if I had a child.
- I would be happy if I had two children.
- I would be happy if I had a husband.
- I would be happy if my husband treated me better.
- I would be happy if I had a different husband.
- I would be happy if I had more money.
- I would be happy if I had a better job.
- I would be happy if …
I could fill pages and pages with “I would be happy ifs.” But here’s the truth. Our ultimate happiness will be found only in Jesus Christ.
The pursuit of happiness
So what do we really need to be happy? A man? A new house? Children? Financial security? A slimmer body? A wrinkle-free face? A new car? A fulfilling job? Successful adult children? Loving parents? Encouraging friends? A padded savings account? Good health?
We have only to look at the latest edition of National Enquirer, People, or Entertainment Tonight to know that some of the most unhappy people on the planet are seemingly the most successful. They seem to have it all while in reality they have nothing at all.
Friend, we will never find true happiness until the only word that fills in that blank is the name of Jesus. Don’t be fooled. This is the truth.
Someone asked a very wealthy man just how much it would take for him to be happy.
“Just a little bit more,” he said.
But the little bit more will not satisfy the soul. Joy comes only from knowing Christ. We are each born with a God-shaped void in our lives. A husband, a child, a car, a family—nothing, absolutely nothing can fill that void successfully. There will always be emptiness surrounding the thing or person we attempt to put in the God-shaped void in our lives.
Happiness won’t be found by investing in the stock market but by investing in people. It won’t be found by spending money but by spending time with family and friends. It won’t be found by getting but by giving. The Declaration of Independence declares the right to pursue happiness, but it fails to give the guidelines to make that possible.
Like trying to read a crumpled map in a glove compartment, we try to find the way to happiness. We hold the creased pages that have been taped together and run our finger along the highway, looking for shortcuts. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He is the highway to holiness, the roadway to righteousness, and the pathway to peace.
Every year, nearly forty million Americans move. Some moves are work related, health related, or relationship related. But mostly, people move because they think they will be happier somewhere else.
The truth is, as long as we live in this world, we will never be completely content. We were not made for this world. We were made for heaven. C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
We were made for heaven. This world is temporary and fleeting … just a breath. We are homesick, in a way, for a place we’ve never been.
But God does give us glimpses of home. Every time we spend time in His presence, we get a glimpse of our heavenly home, a taste of our eternal life, and an inkling of our everlasting peace. Wow, I can’t wait.