As I walked through the Frenchgate Shopping Centre in Doncaster a couple of weeks ago I came upon this stand in the centre of one of the junctions in the aisles.
JOIN THE HAPPINESS MOVEMENT
IT’S NOT A REVOLUTION
IT’S A REVELATION
Around the bottom of the stand there were pieces of good advice:
- Be the reason someone laughs
- Do more of what makes you happy
- Be someone who makes everyone smile
- Think positive and positive things will happen
- Be kind whenever possible
I walked on to the railway station musing on the whole idea of happiness, the suggestions were sound but the context pointed to spending money and relying on material goods for personal happiness.
Less than an hour later I was sitting on a train in Retford station. The train was going nowhere because there had been a fatality on the line. My mind turned to some training I had undertaken with the British Transport Police where we learned something of the effect of such incidents on those involved. Lives are changed for ever, those of the victim’s family and friends, those of the driver of the train and those of emergency service staff who have (sometimes literally) to pick up the pieces.
Against this background it occurred to me how fragile a thing is happiness. A passing feeling and one which cannot withstand life’s hard and painful patches.
It is easy to become all ‘holier than thou’ about such revelations as the stand in the shopping centre offered and there is certainly nothing wrong with being positive and kind. But when life is difficult we need more than happiness to see us through. God offers us a deep personal relationship and with that he offers us “the peace of God which passes all understanding to guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). This is a peace which will not shield us from the pain and the grief and the concerns of daily living but it will support us – even carry us – through those times. And it comes from accepting God’s purpose for each one of us.
What more can any of us ask for?