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How Are Christians Happy?
Part I
Bible study on happiness.

Abraham Lincoln spent a great deal of time reading the Bible and reflecting upon the human condition. I believe his analysis about people and happiness was correct, when he said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Happiness is a lifestyle, a state of being. It can't be purchased or earned, and it's not a place to which you can travel. It's a perspective; we choose whether to be happy or sad in every aspect of life.

Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, and eventually purchased by Potiphar.

He was put in charge of his master's house, and eventually suffered sexual harassment from Potiphar's wife.

When Joseph wouldn't consent to her advancements, he was framed and subsequently thrown into prison, where the chief jailer put him in charge of the prisoners.

Joseph's Question
In prison, Joseph saw Pharaoh's butler and baker and asked, "Why are your faces so sad today" (Gen. 40:7)?

Besides the concern Joseph had for his fellow man, the question reveals his positive attitude.

If anyone had a reason to be sad, it was Joseph. But rather than being sad, after being sold into slavery, falsely accused of sexual harassment, and unjustly imprisoned, he was upbeat and positive.

How did Joseph. . . ?
How did Joseph maintain his dignity in prison?

How did he have a state of mind to care for the emotional wellness of others, while he was oppressed?

How did he have a happy perspective of life, to recognize the butler and baker's sadness?

Joseph Trusted in God
Joseph made the best of every situation, trusting in God and satisfied to do His will, even if he spent his life in prison.

As Christians, we do the same thing today:

  • ". . . exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations. . ." (Rom. 5:2-3).
  • "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (Jas. 1:2-4).
  • "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:6-7).

Joseph Realized The Greater Good
Joseph overcame sadness by realizing the greater good, as God worked in his life.

After his father died, Joseph's brothers were afraid that he would hate them and repay them for enslaving him. So they begged for mercy.

Joseph said, "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about that as it is this day, to save many people alive" (Gen. 50:19-20).

Joseph realized that God used the bad things in his life to bring about a greater good, the salvation of a nation.

We Must Realize The Greater Good in Our Lives
As Christians, God uses our lives to bring about good.

Paul says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God . . ." (Rom. 8:28).

In the same context, he says we'll be conquers over all the "bad" things that happen to us. "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:37-39).

Joseph Graciously Forgave Others
Joseph graciously forgave others because of his perspective of life, his faith, and his dependence on God. He didn't harbor ill will toward his brothers, or others.

Therefore Joseph dealt with his anger, which allowed him to move forward with life, rather than being sad and depressed.

As Christians, we forgive others as often as they need forgiving (Matt. 18:22), as God in Christ has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32). As a result we press forward with life, rather than holding ourselves down with sadness and depression (Phil. 3:7-14).

To Be Continued
We continue our study on happiness in Part II of this series.