The Sad Side of Happiness

 happy children

“I just want my children to be happy.” How many times have you heard someone say that? Or perhaps, you’ve said it yourself. Of course, happiness is not a bad thing; who wouldn’t want to be happy? But, it’s just not enough.

Depending on the source, happiness can be elusive, conditional and possibly short-lived. Have you ever been so happy you felt as if you were on top of the world? And then, without warning something happened and your world collapsed.

It’s not only the tragedies that rob us of our happiness. An unkind word, something left unsaid or a small disappointment—and poof! It’s gone. And what do we have left? A broken heart, hurt feelings or a feeling of loss.  

Happiness spurts and sputters its way through our lives. And we get to the point where we don’t trust it at all. So, what can we trust to lift us when we’re sad? To sustain us when we’re weary? And to strengthen us when we’re weak?


There is a biblical happiness or joy that comes from being blessed by God. According to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:3-10, “Blessed are:

  • Those who realize their need for God
  • Those who find their comfort in God when they mourn
  • Those who are humble
  • Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
  • Those who are merciful
  • Those with pure hearts
  • Those who work for peace
  • Those who are persecuted for doing right

Without God, happiness is a feeling dependent upon the nature of our circumstances. However, with God as our source, joy becomes a state of well-being with or without the feelings.

How do we sustain this joy through difficult times? It’s simple; we go to God. First, we confess our sin of worry, fear, or whatever has stolen our joy. And then we ask God to cleanse us and fill our hearts with the fruit of His Spirit of joy, love peace, etc. (Galatians 5:22) How do we know He will answer our prayer? Because His Word promises if we ask anything according to His will He hears us and will answer our prayer. (I John 5:14-15)

But that’s not all; there’s a bonus! Nehemiah 8:10 tells us the joy of the Lord is our strength. So, when we’re filled with His joy, we will also have the strength we need.

Here’s the nitty-gritty question: How do we experience joy during the mundane times in our lives? Is it really possible to be joyful when we’re cleaning the toilet or caring for an ungrateful patient?

When infused by the Holy Spirit, the most menial task takes on eternal significance. But we can be sure our joy will be tested. It will be tested in the lesser moments when no one is looking. It will be tested in our more trying moments when we especially need His strength.

However, the greatest test of joy may come during our times of personal success. That’s when we’ll be tempted to seek happiness from our performance, as well as the accolades and attention of others.

The sad side of happiness is that it’s fragile and temporary. God’s joy is sustainable and eternal. And it’s born and bred in the hearts of those who love God and trust His Spirit to guide them.

With that in mind, perhaps happiness is not the best thing to desire for our children or ourselves. Instead, my prayer is that we:

  • will realize our need for God.
  • will find our comfort in God.
  • will be humble.
  • will hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  • will be merciful.
  • will have pure hearts.
  • will work for peace.
  • will trust God when persecuted for doing right.

 mother praying

What about you? What are you praying for yourself and your family?

woman on computer


6 Responses to “The Sad Side of Happiness”
  1. Your observation about finding the joy in the mundane made me think of Matthew Redmond’s book “The God of the Mundane” – a great read on this topic. Thanks for this helpful reminder about the fleeting nature of happiness and the eternal nature of joy.

  2. Bruce Salley says:

    Every time I read your blog, I am continually amazed at your words that give so much hope and peace! I am always thinking what book is she getting this out of and then I realize, God speaks to you in whatever way he wants to, because you are tuned in to him 24-7!!! Thank you for the time you spend in guiding us into HIS ways!

    He was with me last night as I was examined as a Candidate for Deacon! They accepted me!!!!! Thank for your encouragement and prayers! We had a surprise visit from Susan yesterday. She may stay till Thurs. because of the weather. What a gift! She is such a quiet encourager!! Bruce is trying to wean himself off all this medication! He is finally sleeping in the chair which has helped his night pain. PT has begun! 4 weeks probably or more. HAVE A GOOD Week!!

    Much love to both! Harriett

    Elizabeth Welsh posted: ” “I just want my children to be happy.” How many times have you heard someone say that? Or perhaps, you’ve said it yourself. Of course, happiness is not a bad thing; who wouldn’t want to be happy? But, it’s just not enough. Depending on the source, h”

    • Thanks, Harriet for you encouraging comment. You help to keep me going and I treasure our friendship. I had no doubt they would accept you. They are extremely blessed to have you! I pray Bruce will continue to heal and feel better. Let’s get together soon.

  3. Millie Welsh says:

    Love this, Mom! Always a boost to read your posts and to be reminded of wonderful, solid truth! Thanks for modeling what you share! Grateful for that and for you!

    • Thanks to you, sweet daughter. You’re always such an encouragement to me. I’m excited about the RGM path God has placed you on and I know many young women will come to the Lord because of your influence. Love you,Mom

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