By Chris Stefanick
Chris Stefanick is a speaker, author, and television host. His life’s mission, and that of his nonprofit organization, Real Life Catholic, is to help people find and live the lives they were made for in Jesus Christ and his Church. He is the author of Living Joy: 9 Rules to Help You Rediscover and Live Joy Every Day.
A lot of people wonder what the secret sauce for a happy life is, and why God doesn’t just tell us. Turns out he did, but what he said is simple, and we’re busy looking for a mystic light to shine from behind a cloud—illuminating a hidden path. We’re looking for a guru to teach us secret spiritual methods that the “average” person couldn’t possibly understand.
People have fallen into this error throughout history. We overlook the simple solutions hiding right under our noses.
When Naaman, a great army commander, got leprosy, he was horrified. It was a death sentence in the ancient world. And a painful one. But a ray of hope broke through when he learned of a great prophet in Israel. A mystic. A spiritual man. He went on a long journey to find Elisha and beg for healing. When he found Elisha, he was waiting for some powerful ceremony. Or perhaps he’d be told to climb to the highest cliff and eat the egg of a rare bird nesting in the rocks. Or at least some spell would be cast in a strange language. But Elisha told him bathe seven times in the Jordan, and he’d be healed. Then the prophet walked off . . . like a regular, boring old guy.
“The prophet was obviously wrong. It can’t be this stupidly simple. I’ve made a long journey to a great spiritual man, and he’s telling me to take a bath!?” Naaman stormed off in a rage. One of Naaman’s servants stopped him. “If the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kgs 5:13).
Naaman relented. He had come all this way. Nothing to lose, he thought. He did as the prophet told him, and as Scripture says, his skin became “like the flesh of a little child” (2 Kgs 5:14).
Do you want your youth restored? Your marriage healed? Blessings to be unleashed in your life? Your mood improved? Your house happier? Do you want to get more out of your life? It’s simpler than you think: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:18).
Gratitude is the key to enjoying your everyday life. If you don’t have gratitude, God is wasting his blessings on you. Some of the harshest words in Scripture aren’t addressed to the murderer or adulterer but to the ungrateful—the man covered in blessings who can’t seem to enjoy them. “A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity . . . I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. It comes without meaning . . . ” (Eccl 6:3–4, NIV). Did you catch that? You’d be better off if you were born dead than if you have blessings but don’t stop and enjoy them. Ouch. That’s harsh.
But isn’t that you sometimes? Half of your daily stress comes from complaining about juggling your many blessings—your children, managing your home, scheduling time with family and friends. You wouldn’t have to do any of those things if you didn’t have money, kids, or freedom of religion.
I fall into the error of stressing over my blessings all the time! I’m still learning with you. I went paddle boarding with my family recently. I had a moment of “misery.” The AC in my car broke. I was sweating by the time I got to the lake. The pump for my inflatable paddleboard broke so I had to do it by hand. More sweat. I was cursing the universe by the time I had the board pumped up. I was a stressed-out mess. Then I stopped, took a deep breath, and reflected on my circumstances with new eyes. I was at a beautiful national park in Colorado near where I live. I actually had the money to buy a couple of paddleboards. I have healthy children whose bodies are able to paddleboard. My car AC had apparently broken, but I have a car. I began to thank God. That didn’t fix my AC or my paddleboard pump, but it did fix me.
“Every man also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and find enjoyment in his toil [note that the Scripture doesn’t overlook the fact that life has plenty of toil!]—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart” (Eccl 5:19–20).
Do you want to be occupied with joy in your heart? Give thanks.
Living Joy: 9 Rules to Help You Rediscover and Live Joy Every Day equips you with the wisdom you need to experience joy to the fullest. With evidence, experience, and common sense, Chris Stefanick presents nine rules that will empower you to overcome the obstacles that are keeping you from unspeakable joy.