You can’t always get what you want. That’s a painful reality. For most, life’s #1 pursuit is happiness. “If I had that job, I’d be happy.” “If I could find the right husband, I’d be happy.” “If I had more money, I’d be happy.” Fairy tale thinking is always one step away from happiness—it’s a unicorn. In his study on happiness Dr. Henry Cloud’s research indicates that 50% of what makes a person happy is constitution…in other words temperament and attitude. One’s upbringing also plays a role in a person’s outlook/disposition. That influence may be positive or negative depending on the environment and the problems and how they were dealt with. Many studies show that 10% of what makes a person happy is life circumstances. It’s good news that circumstance is only 10%, since so much of what happens is beyond our control. The remaining 40% has to do with how we see and respond to the world. In other words happiness, to a great extent, is an inside job. We quickly learn that the things we pursue and attain bring some happiness for a time, but that happiness fades. The world ties happiness to success and defines success as gaining and attaining…power, position, stuff. Happiness can only be found when we redefine success in God’s economy. True success is fulfilling God’s purpose in your life. Then you find contentment, peace, purpose—fulfillment!

Scriptures – De 8:2, 9; Ps 50:15; Is 49:23; Je 17:7; Mt 5:45; Jn 16:33; Js 1:2-4

Verses – “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
(Mt. 5:45) “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work, so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (Js 1:2-4)

Thought
We bemoan the problems and difficulties that come into our lives. “Why is this happening to me!” To think that we will not encounter trials and troubles is fairy tale thinking. Jesus made it clear that in this world we will have difficulties. The Bible tells us that these are opportunities for growth for building our spiritual strength. Our perspective in approaching our problems has everything to do with our advancement and progress in life. If we are going to advance, we must pass the pressure test. No one becomes an Olympic athlete without training, preparation, trials. They prepare mentally and physically. With each win they advance to a new level of competition and pressure. As we face the trials in our lives and persevere with God’s help, we reach a new level of confidence, competence, and fulfillment. With each advancement there is also more pressure. In addition, we must pass the people test. God tells us to put our trust in him for good reason. People will always disappoint us. We will be fooled, lied to, betrayed and hurt. We will morn the loss of a relationship, feel the hurt of broken trust, but the real people test is whether or not we move on, open our hearts and trust again. I don’t know any happy people who are harboring unforgiveness, anger, and don’t trust anyone. We need to kill the unicorn that says happiness is a perfect job, perfect marriage, perfect home, and trouble-free life. This fairy tale idea will always disappoint. Yes, chase your God-given dreams and pursue the best marriage you can have, the best job, whatever you are inspired to do, but get real! Face the pressure test and the people test with confidence in God’s power to train and teach you in the process.

Questions
What fairy tale realization has most disappointed you? What unicorn do you think is most chased in society today? How does escapism contribute to fairy tale thinking? How does the idea that “everyone is a winner” play out in life? What trial have you faced that marked and developed you (spiritually)? What are you pursuing?

Response
Look at your pursuits. Determine is they are God-inspired or influenced by the world. Decide to face life’s challenges with hope that God is bringing you to a new level. Seek the peace and fulfillment only he can give.

Prayer
Gracious Father, give me confidence that my trials and problems have a greater purpose. Help me to face them with perseverance and to know that something good is going to come from each test. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.