Finding happiness on the other side of unhappiness



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In her most recent book, “Our Holy Yearnings“, the very brilliant Joan Chittister observed;

“One of the interesting things about modern life is that almost nobody you talk to is where they started out thinking they would be at this point in their lives. And even then, almost nobody really sought to be where they now are.

And yet, almost all of them are satisfied to be there. And best of all, almost all of them are happy. Correction: Almost all of them found happiness on the other side of unhappiness, the side of it they definitely would have avoided if only they could have.
Life is like that. It is the discovery of light in what seems to be the darkest of places, a coming to find the stars behind the clouds, the astonishing revelation of fullness where only emptiness seemed to be“

Moulded by darkness?

We are often told that every cloud has a silver lining, unfortunately at times it seems you have to wade through a lot of cloud to find it. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who made the comment that the darker it becomes the more clearly one sees the stars.
Yet it is not the stars that trouble us however, but the level of darkness we often have to go through in order to see them.

Yet the reality is, that the darkness and the clouds, as opposed to the silver lining or the stars, are the very things that build and shape us into the characters we become.

One researcher asked a score of people where in their life they felt they had grown and developed the most? Would it surprise you to learn, that the most common answer given was the moments of difficulty, challenge, heartache and pain?

It is a perennial truth that tough times build tough people. That hidden within all our troubles are the seeds of our strength and our wisdom and our growth.

The reality is, however depressing it may seem, much of who we need to be even long to be, will only be discovered in the mud and the mire of life. It is never easy to appreciate that God leaves us in the most difficult and often painful of places because by doing so, he is able to build the strength and greatness he has destined our lives to become.

Waiting on the other side…

In truth much of the qualities and characteristics we want and desire for our lives lay on the other side of their opposites.
The strength for example, we long for lies on the other side of great weakness. The deep joy that we seek lies on the other side of bitter sadness. The resounding happiness we yearn after, lies on the other side of heartbreaking unhappiness.

In pursuit of every summit we must traipse the valleys and ravines.

We saw this modelled in the journey of God’s people Israel. Their’s was the pain of passing through Egyptian slavery in order to enjoy the freedom of the wilderness. Later they had the pain of opposition and warfare in order to enjoy the freedom of Canaan.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that it was for the joy that was set before him that Jesus endured the cross. Wherever we look, there is no getting away from it; if we are to ever enjoy the sweet, the strong, the beautiful and the joyous aspects of life, we must inevitably pass through the bitter, the weak, the ugly and depressing.

Such are the inevitable crosses that precede the crowns.

As difficult as it is, perhaps today is an opportunity to look at your dark spots, and maybe for the first time, appreciate how the are working for you a far greater weight of glory.

If we could see it, all our dark times are… many ways,
God’s greatest gift to us!

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