So much of my happiness in life is wrapped up in circumstances. Circumstances, more often than not, are outside of my control. When I place my happiness in circumstances, I’m taking a big chance, one that rarely ends up in my favor.
What, then, would it look like to seek God’s will for my life and place my happiness in him? And how would I go about doing that?
Two years ago, I was in quite a different place. James 4 would’ve gone right over my head. The world had seemingly chewed me up and spit me out, year after year, for 29 years. Childhood abuse led to depression, diagnosed at age 13. Relationships came and went. Careers came and went. I was clawing around in the dark, searching for that something to bring me true happiness. I grew up in church, volunteered at church, even worked at church and yet all of my life experiences numbed me to the point where God seemed nothing but a name. My marriage was on the rocks. My very life was on the rocks. Alcoholism almost did me in, but the people around me believed in God’s will for me, even when I couldn’t comprehend what that meant myself. With two years of sober-living under my belt, I’m starting to get glimpses of what God’s will is for me.
James implores me to seek God’s will and to live it out (v3, v15). For some time, despite my best attempts to live the life God wants me to live, I didn’t ask him what that looks like. I’d look at how other “good Christians” are living and attempt to follow their example. The problem here is that God wants me to live out the best version of who he created me to be, not someone else. How will I know who that best version of me is without asking him? And how will I hear his answer without listening?
In the last two years, as I’ve begun to ask and listen, God has spoken to me. He has begun to make clear to me who I am, and what his will is for my life. Sometimes it takes time to come into focus and sometimes it means moving, in any direction, until he directs me in another. It doesn’t matter what my title is at work, how much I make, or what others think of me if I am living out God’s will for me in the present. This is what God calls us to do through the book of James.
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you."
This is true happiness.