I once read about an American soldier who was taken prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War. He was sent to a dirty prison, abused and starved, and eventually locked into a dismal solitary confinement cell. For the first year of his imprisonment, he couldn’t have been more miserable. His circumstances were horrific. His hope of freedom was small. He was depressed, lonely, and angry.
One day someone gave him a Bible to read in his solitary cell. As he encountered Truth for the first time, he was captivated. He couldn’t put it down. For several days, he read the Bible all day and night. And he was changed. He recognized who Jesus was, and what Jesus had done for him. He surrendered his life to Jesus.
Suddenly, the entire atmosphere of his cell became different. No longer was it a place of gloom and misery. In fact, he realized that there was nowhere on earth he would rather be than in that cell. He was able to spend countless uninterrupted hours pouring out his heart to his Savior, reading the life-giving words of Scripture, and praying for others. Instead of being depressed and angry, he was filled with genuine happiness and forgiveness.
Nothing about this man’s circumstances changed. The only thing that changed was the focus of his soul. As the old hymn so beautifully expresses, “Where Jesus is, tis Heaven there.” When we intimate fellowship with our King, we can have true joy no matter where we are or what is happening to us. And when we don’t have fellowship with Him, we won’t have true joy no matter how many earthly dreams we fulfill.
I’ve been freshly reminded over these past months that when I look to other things besides Jesus Christ to bring me happiness, I am sure to run into a brick wall of disappointment. Jesus is the only real source of lasting joy. Unlike people and circumstances, He will never fail us.
The world pines after one temporary high after the next, but never finds true joy. But as Christians, we have the amazing opportunity to actually find what everyone else is desperately seeking … happiness that never fades away.
If you need a boost of true happiness today I encourage you to remember that it is not your circumstances that need to change, but the focus of your soul.
As Christians, we have every reason to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4).
P.S. If you are a woman of any age who would like to go deeper into this message of finding true joy, I invite you to join us for our annual Set Apart Conference via simulcast! You can stream the conference live this weekend, or anytime throughout 2018. But don’t wait too long – simulcast registration closes on June 15.
Visit Set Apart Conference to register!