Happiness is Overrated: A lesson from Whit’s End

By: Andrew Lovgren

Some of my most memorable religious discoveries came on family roadtrips, thanks to nine hour drives, a walkman and a few sets of Adventures in Odyssey cassettes.

The chief among the lasting life lessons came from Erica Clark. The young girl complains to her friends about how terrible her life is, with all of the problems a middle-class child can have.

She soon asks one of her friends, a blind girl named Jenny, how she stays happy despite her struggles. Jenny replies by quoting James 1:2-3, “Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

For the next week, whenever she is troubled, Erica uses the phase “Count it all joy” as a way to stay happy. Instead, she finds herself filled with anger and lashes out at those closest to her.

As always, Mr. Whittaker has the answer to her problems, informing Erica that joy isn’t about being constantly happy but about finding joy in a life rooted in Christ.

The rest of the book of James offers similar advice for Christian living, in ways that may seem foolish upon first glance. James 1:4 brings the reassuring mantra full circle, saying “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

With the college lifestyle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Tests, social requirements and an ever-looming future seem like insurmountable obstacles. In reality, such ‘trials’ should be met with joy, for even the minor struggles of college life are part of creating a complete Christian.

In reality, such ‘trials’ should be met with joy, for even the minor struggles of college life are part of creating a complete Christian.

As life becomes growingly complicated with each year, true happiness may be more and more difficult to find, especially in a way that lasts. Instead, try remembering to count it all joy, relishing a life in Christ and gaining true, fulfilling joy from it.

Perhaps even adults should visit Whit’s End to get some help from Mr. Whitaker.

Back to School Challenge: Read through the book of James at least once a week through September, memorizing key verses for life’s struggles, both big and small. Comment below with your favorites.

Suggestions: James 1:2-4, 12, 19-21 – 2: 12-13, 26 – 3: 17-18 – 4:7-10, 15 – 5:7-9

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