This is guest post from my friend Chris Vonada. You can get to know a little bit more about Chris by visiting his blog I’m Just Thinkin’ I think you will discover what I’ve discovered over the past several months…he’s a happy dude. 🙂
I like to read a lot. I read some material that isn’t all that Christian. Why? Well, I want to hear the voice. I’ve found that I can listen to anyone’s point of view and respect (most of) them for what they believe. My opinion is just one of many, and you will find that even most Christians don’t agree on everything, or believe the same thing for that matter.
I read an interesting article recently about religion and happiness. I’m going to spare you many deets here as I didn’t agree with some of what was written. I did discover that some of the happiest people who live in our world today are those in the countries of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Interestingly, these 3 countries also rank at the top as the least religious.
I found it quite interesting how the writer and the UN, the ranking agency, determined happiness. They say it’s a function of health, wealth and education, the end result stated not only as being more happy but also enjoying a better quality of life. The writer also compared and contrasted different parts of the world where people latch onto the hope offered through Jesus and the cross. I’m pretty sure the writer was an unbeliever as he tried to sell the idea that religion seems to find its place where people are desperate, needy and less fortunate.
I can agree with the writer of the article and his claim that some of the happiest people in our world today live in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. I’m totally cool with that. Shiver me timbers kind of cool, and not just because they’re the chilly Scandinavian countries. I had a college roommate that was Norwegian. He was an incredibly laid back dude who was remarkably happy! These folks seem to have the formula down on how to be happy in this world.
But then what happens? Well, you know, we’re all going to pass from this world to one of two places, right? Well, you may say that when we die it’s really the end. That option sounds pretty rotten (pardon the pun) to me too! Whatever you believe, maybe just humor me for another minute or two…
Please follow me to Matthew Chapter 25, verses 31 through 46. Jesus tells of judgment day, when God will separate the believers from the pretenders and the unbelievers. Through a parable, He suggests to the chosen few, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus points out that there is more life to come beyond our earthly life. There’s a bigger picture…a picture that is much more generous than happiness. It’s called hope. Our hope is a function of how we resemble Jesus. It’s pretty simple: Believe, repent and follow Him. That gives us hope, and eternal life. Jesus assured us that our journey here in this world wouldn’t be an easy walk through the rose garden every day.
I try to maintain happiness more as an attitude than a mood that sways with the wind, and I believe we can achieve this through hope. Hope is acquired through simple acts freely given and received and doesn’t depend on wealth, intellect or even ability. This opportunity is open to everyone. Everywhere.
One of the greatest examples that I ever saw of achieving happiness through hope was while working in a local community in Northern Eleuthera, The Bahamas. This was a very remote area, far different from the experience that many Americans find when they hop off a cruise ship in Freeport or Nassau, or when visiting Atlantis. On this trip I was working on a new development project called Royal Island and was housed in the guest quarters of an enterprising family that lived in a settlement called The Bluff. I was there for the better part of a week and enjoyed my stay. This area was so remote I found it closer to a third-world type setting than Paradise Island.
The most striking part of my visit there was the people – they were very happy and upbeat. On Wednesday, a few of the guys were taking the afternoon off to go fishing and to gather some conch. I could see their love for the environment around them, and appreciated their simplistic and carefree lifestyle. When I realized what it centered on I found their hope – that point of gyrations was the universal truth. Faith in Jesus and knowing the end of the story.
I’m happy FOR the Scandinavians and their glee. Why? Well, I’m a happy dude. The closer that I stay to God the less moody I feel, too. Being tight with Him also has implications for anxiety, if you happen to be bound up in a knot with that one. Plus, we’ve got hope as we know the end of the story. The Bahamians inspired me, through them I get a glimpse of the bigger picture of hope. That was my takeaway, and how I feel like I’m able to rise from the heap.
Where do you see the vision of hope in our world today?
This is a guest post from Chris Vonada. Chris is an author
and geologist, and also enjoys reading, running, anything outdoors,
travel, family, friends, music and life! He writes about his passions
at I’m Just Thinkin’. You can also follow him on Twitter