Tag Archives: happiness

Manaoag Church, Philippines

Some of the Happiest People

I have been out of the country for the past couple weeks visiting the Philippines and Guam, my first time out of the country, so some might say that I had a case of culture shock. The Philippines is a beautiful place, full of lush green landscape, Spanish-era churches, gorgeous beaches, and rolling mountains. Because PI is a third world country there are some harsher realities hiding behind the country’s natural beauty.

As my boyfriend and I were staying in a rural area, most of the attractions were over an hour away, meaning long car rides through both rural and urban areas. No matter where we went it was evident that poverty was widespread, and that resources were limited. My natural instinct is to get angry at the circumstances. I am passionate about justice, but I’m not always sure of how to act on it. While I have been back from the Philippines for several days now, I still struggle with how I can help their dire conditions. I’ve researched charities, orphanages, etc. It’s hard to navigate giving to a people with so many needs. While I work on a giving plan for the rest of the year, I am also researching the culture itself.

I ran across a wonderful stationary shop while I was in the Philippines called Papemelroti. Here I bought many gifts, along with a set of cards, each with a Philippine fact. Flipping through the cards last night I saw one that surprised me. Filipinos are among the happiest people in the world despite their level of poverty. Americans have just emptied their wallets in the spirit of a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, but how many of us are truly happy, joyful, even hopeful.

On our way to Baguio City on a Sunday afternoon we quickly pulled over to visit Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag Church. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had never seen so many people packed into a church and church grounds. The place was swarming with people of all ages crowding in to hear the sermon and to be healed. Despite the number of disabled, sick, and even physically deformed by tumor and disease, the emotion there was overwhelmingly joyful. People gathered at the shrine to light a candle for healing. I lit two, one for each of my parents. And while there were sinful things happening just outside the gates, all was forgotten in the presence of Jesus and the hope for a better life.

The lesson we so often miss or forget is that our happiness is found at His feet no matter the number on our paycheck or whether we even have a paycheck. It is found where two or three are gathered to honor our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you’d like to help the impoverished of the Philippines, please stay tuned. I will be posting links to ways you can help, but in the meantime think about the source of your happiness. How does it dictate how you spend your time?

Giddy God

God delights in you. You are His beloved. We have all heard it, but do we really believe it? Do we see the evidence in our lives?

I am part of an online prayer group that developed over the past several months. It started with just 3 or 4 of us and has developed into a group of 7 women. Some of us have never even met. We celebrate joys and cry for each other’s suffering, but most importantly we pray. Over the past several months there have been many answered prayers. Most recently one of the group members got into her dream school. When praying for her I didn’t know for sure that this was the school for her. My prayer was that God’s will be done and that he know the desire of her heart. It’s amazing that His will and her dream were perfectly aligned, and her prayer was answered in just the way she imagined. As she announced the news to the group she said, “I’m shaking!” As I read the news I imagined God’s response to His dear daughter’s excitement, like a parent able to give his child her dream. My response, “Imagine God shaking with excitement along with you.”

Every God-given joy is multiplied when you reflect on His response to your joy. It comes full circle. He gives joy, we show joy, He rejoices. Happiness doesn’t do this.

Last Sunday I met with my small group and discussed sin. It was the topic of our discipleship chapter. One person asked something like, “Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you weren’t a follower of God? Did you ever try it out even for just a season?” I admitted I had. In college I thought perhaps I could believe in God and still do whatever I wanted in pursuit of happiness. From that experience I learned that happiness is fleeting, but joy lasts even in our sobriety, even in our solitude. If you find you always need someone around, a drink in your hand, a comedy on TV to be happy then you aren’t experiencing joy. And one thing I’m slowly learning is that I can’t believe in God and do whatever because it feels good and be a follower of Jesus. For one it feels so double-minded, like multiple lives. Secondly, it snuffs out all joy. There are several other reasons, but these are most relevant to the topic at hand.

If you are seeking joy over fleeting happiness try this:

  1. Read a Psalm and underline every promise, every characteristic of God. If you would like to read Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s Prayer click on the link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=NIV
  2. Write all the underlined words and phrases inserting the pronoun “You” for God and “I” for yourself. So that when you read it they are God’s promises specifically to you.
  3. Now sit back and experience the joy you have in hearing those words. Remember, they are for you, His beloved.
  4. Reflect on God’s response to your joy in hearing His promises. Is he shaking with excitement?
  5. Watch this video, read the lyrics, even sing or dance along. Revel in it.

Enjoy your day!