It’s a new year…are you happy? I like entering into a new year. I warmly welcome new beginnings. I really enjoy starting again and love setting goals and targets. A new beginning provides an opportunity to change, to start over, or to re-commit to something. I’m not alone in feeling this way. The whole world makes much of New Year’s Eve because there’s something incredibly special about it—we’re saying “goodbye” to the past, and “hello” to the future. According to The Guardian, the last Dubai fireworks display cost $6 million, Sydney’s fireworks display cost $7.2 million with 1.1 billion people watching it globally, and London’s fireworks cost £1.8 million which lasted 11 minutes.
The world is pretty happy to celebrate on New Year’s Eve and its effects lasts for months as people make new year’s resolutions. People make promises to themselves that they will never smoke again, or not eat chocolate until April, to lose weight, to read more, or whatever it is one wants to accomplish. In setting new year’s resolutions, there is a confession or admittance that their old-self was just not good enough, and so there is an expectation that these resolutions will hopefully make them a better version of themselves.
Our whole year constitutes of adjustments we make to try and change who we are, what we look like and how we do things. We do it all in search of a greater meaning and purpose to life and our identity—to achieve a greater sense of fulfilment—to be happy. We desire and therefore chase a better lifestyle. However, many of us either end up quitting the resolutions or find out that reaching these goals are never truly fulfilling. They may provide happiness for a time, but before long we end up needing or wanting something else. Perhaps this is why the advertising industry is so successful, because we always want the new iPhone, the latest fashion trend or whatever we’re told will make us happier.
Have you ever heard the famous phrase, “Money won’t bring you happiness”? I’m sure you have. I altogether disagree with that statement. If you were handed a cheque of however amount of money, it would make you happy, surely. It supplies you with the ability to purchase or acquire something you didn’t have before. We all have jobs in order to earn money to live happier lives. But here’s the thing: happiness doesn’t last. Happiness is an emotion that is completely dependant upon your circumstances. Happiness will come and go. What money and new year’s resolutions can’t give you is joy! Whatever goal you achieve in life will give you a sense of fulfilment for a while, but sooner or later, there will be another goal to reach.
The kind of joy I am talking about, is the joy that is expressed in the Bible. True joy can only be found, experienced and known through Jesus Christ. As a result of God being eternal, infinite and unchangeable, there is nothing better than him. There is no advertisement that can offer an upgraded God. Nothing can ever top the experience of knowing God through Jesus Christ. The Bible says that by coming to know Jesus as your Saviour, you are “born again” (John 3:3). It also says that you become a “new creation in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Joy is so much more satisfying than happiness. Joy remains steadfast through the good times and the bad. Biblical joy provides stability and security. This is why, when I visit a Christian dying on his/her deathbed, he/she will smile with joy in the knowledge that God has redeemed his/her soul and will supply that person with everlasting peace and joy in Heaven with Christ. There is a profound difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is unreliable, but joy is lasting and it endures through suffering.
The book of James chapter 1 verse 2 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds”. This does not mean you need to try and be happy when you’re going through a season of suffering. Rather, it means that as we go through times of difficulty as Christians, we have the wonderful knowledge that Jesus is never-changing and that his comfort and love is with us all the time whether we feel it or not. The promises of scripture do not change – therefore, God is always there with us. Jesus experienced the greatest suffering in our place on the cross as he endured the wrath of the Father, so that our sin can be wiped away. This year, God offers a new life to you, through Jesus, the Saviour of the world. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, but there is so much more richness to rejoicing in the Lord. There is so much to say regarding the subject of biblical joy that I have no space to express it. All I will say is that the experience of knowing your Creator as a Saviour will jolt you to your very core.