November 22, 2006
How to be Happy
By Rachel Olsen
“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
“Happy Thanksgiving!” people wish me repeatedly this week. Seems like everyone wishes for happiness. Everybody wants some. Many people pretend to have it …yet few seem to truly possess it. Why is happiness so hard to find?
Pssst … lean in closer… I will show you a path that leads to it … the fourth chapter of Philippians. Look up and read verses six through thirteen, or read them below in the Power Verses section.
Notice in verse six, Paul gives three clear instructions for finding lasting happiness and contentment. He says:
1) do not worry about anything
2) pray about everything
3) thank God for everything
What if today we took this instruction to heart and put it into practice? What if today we decided not to worry about anything? What if when we found ourselves worrying, we stopped and handed the situation over to God in prayer? What if we then thanked Him for taking care of the issue? In fact, what if we spent most of our mental free time today thinking about what good care our awesome God takes of us? What would happen then?
Paul says in verse seven, if we begin to live this way we will experience amazing peace – a kind of peace we can’t even imagine. Peace that makes no earthly sense! This kind of peace is so powerful that it has a protective function on our hearts and minds – which only makes it easier for us to stop worrying and be thankful. That sounds like a state of happiness to me!
In verse eight Paul elaborates on what to think about instead of our worries – whatever is good, true, honorable, pure, lovely, praise worthy, and right. Many things can fall into these categories, but Christ encompasses them all! This is not just “positive thinking,” this is “spiritual thinking.”
Further down in Philippians 4:10-13, Paul goes on to attest personally to the truth of this 3-step process as he writes from a Roman prison. From behind bars Paul says, “I’ve learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little … I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little" (Phil. 4:11-12). Did you catch that verb? Paul LEARNED how to be happy and content. It didn’t just happen once he reached his goals. In fact, he claims his ability to be happy had nothing at all to do with his circumstances, but rather his increased trust in Christ.
So happy contentedness is not something that comes once our waistlines have slimmed, our wrinkles are erased, our houses are organized, our children are successful, our bosses have thanked us, or our husbands dote on us. Instead it is learned as we become prayerful (verse 6) and thankful (verse 6), as we practice spiritual thinking (verse 8), and as we trust totally in Christ (verse 13) despite our circumstances.
I can’t think of a better day to start practicing Paul’s process of prayer, thankfulness, and “spiritual thinking” than today. Happy Thanksgiving!
Dear Lord, I’m turning over all my fears and problems to You to handle today. I can’t fix a single thing by worrying about it - but you can fix anything because nothing is impossible for You! Thank You for my blessings, big and small. Thank You for Your loving care for me. Thank You for being in charge of my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
God’s Purpose for Every Woman Editors Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen
Rachel Olsen’s blog
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst
Open your Bible and highlight Philippians 4:6-7. Memorize those two verses.
Does thankfulness characterize me?
Do I think about what is good, lovely, pure and right, or do I think about what is depressing, frustrating, unfair and wrong?
Philippians 4:6-9, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (NLT)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105