How many times have you been wished a “Happy New Year” over the past week? If you’re like me, you’ve heard those words a few times at least. It is a nice sentiment. But wishing for it won’t make it happen. Have we ever stopped to consider what it would take for us to actually have a happy new year? Do we realize that, apart from God Himself, the one person who has the most control over how happy the coming year will be for us is the person we see when we look in the mirror? What can you and I do to make a happy new year. The Scriptures point the way:
- Serve God and others. Jesus taught that happiness is found in serving. After He had washed the disciples feet he said, “I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you. . . If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:15, 17). The wise man said, “He who has mercy on the poor, happy is he” (Proverbs 14:21).
- Control Your Thoughts. We can change our lives by changing our attitudes. We are what we think (cf. Proverbs 23:7). If we think happy and wholesome thoughts, we will be happy. This is the secret to happiness that Paul shared with the Philippians in Philippians 4:8-9 when he said, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
- Avoid sin and guilt. Sin promises pleasure but brings misery. When David was entangled in sin he described it this way: “There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any health in my bones because of my sin. My iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalms 38:4). If we fail to avoid sin, all is not lost; we can still find happiness by finding forgiveness. This is exactly what David did. In Psalm 51:7-8 he prayed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice.”
- Learn to be content. Those who trust God learn to be content with their current physical circumstances. They do not desire more than or other than what they have. The Scriptures teach, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
- Keep focus on spiritual things. Earthly things will always fade away and disappoint. Our earthly achievements and possessions cannot provide lasting happiness. Faith, hope and love are three things that bring abiding joy. So, “Do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are heavenly, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18).