In the Jim Carrey animated retelling of The Christmas Carol that was produced a few years ago there is an exchange near the beginning of the film between Scrooge and his nephew Fred that really struck me.
Scrooge asked his nephew Fred, “How can you be so happy when you have so little?” Fred responds, “How can you be so miserable when you have so much?”
The elusive chase for happiness
Our normal tendency is to think happiness is just around the corner.
- When I get that new job or that promotion…
- When I can trade in this clunker and get a new car…
- When I can finally move into a little bigger house…
- When I can finally pay off Jr.’s college…
- When I can retire and not have to go to this job anymore…
The problem is happiness is not really found in things. Oh sure, you may be feeling pretty good the first couple months driving that new car around. But there will always be just one more thing that will replace it. Chasing happiness through stuff is a useless pursuit.
Money isn’t the issue
The real tendency of money is to just make us more of what we already are. If you are greedy with the little amount you have, you will be greedy with much. If you are a joyful person despite not having much, you will find ways to be even more joyful when you have plenty.
I have known people that were well off and were miserable, cranky people and I have also known people who I know had very little and yet were some of the most joyful, fun-to-be-around people that I have ever known. I’m sure you can say the same.
You see, just like with Scrooge and Fred, money doesn’t provide happiness. Joy is a choice. It is an attitude that we can choose.
Finding joy this Christmas
At Christmas we have an even greater reason to choose joy.
Most of what causes us sorrow really stems from the fact we live in a broken world. The world we live in is not the world that God intended, but sin corrupts and that corruption is the ultimate source of much of what can steal our joy.
But the good news of Christmas is that baby whose birth we celebrate, was born to put an end to sin and grief and hardships. That little baby grew up to be the Savior who defeated the Deceiver forever on that cross 2000 years ago. While we continue to struggle for a little while in this world, we know that because of what Jesus did we have a much different eternity to look forward to. As Paul said:
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17
If you are hurting financially or otherwise this Christmas, I would never make light of your struggles. But, just remember that this world is temporary. In that baby born in Bethlehem was born hope and peace and love and joy.