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Happiness is a choice

From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Dear Rev. Graham: Does the Bible speak of happiness or is this just an American expression, to pursue happiness? — H.H.

Dear H.H.: The Bible says, “He who heeds the word [God’s Word] wisely will find good… happy is he” (Proverbs 16:20). The person who has learned the secret of being content with whatever life brings him is a happy person, though he may be faced with sorrow and disappointment. Contented people rejoice in the simple and beautiful things. Happiness is a choice, but grief is a certainty.
This is very different from what the world searches for through the “positive thinking” approach. Many inspirational speakers will tell us to “think happy thoughts.” Such thoughts might cheer us for a moment, but they will never change us.
A 75-year-old man, one of the wealthiest in the world, once said, “I am the most miserable man in the world. I have everything anyone could ever want. I can go anywhere. I have my own yacht and private plane, but deep down inside I’m miserable and empty.” Another elderly man who didn’t have a penny to his name said, “I may not have much in this life, but I’m the happiest man in the world!”
What makes the difference? The message of Christ proclaims that there is happiness when a person realizes his spiritual poverty because in this acknowledgment, the heart is open to God’s truth and makes Jesus the center of life. God knows the heart of mankind. He knows that an uncontrolled life is an unhappy life. The psalmist wrote: “Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10). The Apostle Paul wrote: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
We need hearts filled with love and peace and joy, and that is why Jesus came into the world.
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(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)