Dr. Philip Kamibayashiyama is the Director of BJMBC.
How can you find genuine happiness in the new year?
Are you happy this new year? We wish people a happy new year, but are we fully happy ourselves?
Actually, relatively few people are happy, even those who seem to be full of fun and excitement.
Why is this?
Often we are unhappy because, as we look back over the past year, we see that things in our life have not improved the way we wanted them to. Your circumstances have probably not significantly changed. Your pressures and problems are still there. Even if your circumstances have changed somewhat, many people in your life remain the same. Most of all, you yourself have not changed much in a year. If you admit that, at least you are humble and honest about yourself. That humility opens the door for change. God does give grace to the humble – those who honestly admit that what God says about their sinfulness is true.
What is the root reason why people are unhappy?
It is because a person becomes like his god. Emptiness is the nature of idols, and our hearts are idol factories. This is why not only pagans but also God’s people worshipped false gods and idols. OT history repeats over and over as if in a loop that people want a god besides Yahweh. Idols can be in the heart; therefore, John wrote near the end of the New Testament: “Brethren, keep yourselves from idols.” The point is that idols are empty (“vain” tôhû; see 1 Sa. 12:21). Therefore, those with idols in their hearts become empty and unhappy in heart.
But it doesn’t have to stay this way! This new year can be different. You can be different. But how?
First of all, realize that the answer is not ultimately in removing problems and pressures from your life. You should avoid overextending yourself, but your God can also do miracles beyond imagining. Secondly, the answer is also not in reforming yourself by your own willpower. You probably know that many New Year’s resolutions--even good ones--do not last past January, because our flesh and our heart fail.
Surprisingly, the answer and means to change is renewing your mind. Your mind includes the thoughts of your heart – having different desires, different values, a different view of life, and a different response to what you will face this year.
Biblically speaking, we cannot change ourselves. But God changes us when our heart is focused on Him. Isaiah 26:3 sings to the LORD, “Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusts in Thee.” God keeps us in peace (shâlôm: wholeness; contentment; happiness) when our minds are on Him. Our minds stay on God when we trust in Him. Where our thoughts dwell tells us where our hearts are.
Consider this application: when you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you want to see? The honest, humble answer of many people would be posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media. What you set your mind upon indicates where your heart is. When it is on vain or empty things, that moment of pleasure will end with an empty, unhappy heart.
Instead, to truly find joy, we need to set our hearts and minds on our glorious God and Savior Jesus Christ. Set your affection on things above. This means to delight in God’s Word and meditate on it day and night. If you do that, this year will be significantly different because you will be changed. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed…” (2 Cor. 3:18a).
May you have a truly happy new year.
A Free Gift for you: 12 Resolutions for Glorifying God this year.
Reading, learning, growing. God calls us to be changed through His Word. At BJMBC, our goal is to speak truthfully and clearly about that Word, while we prepare a future generation of students to proclaim it.