The secret of happiness, in 2023?

Another new year, and another set of crises that we hadn’t even imagined twelve months ago! Anyone relate to that phrase “Stop the world I want to get off!”?

I confess I hadn’t even realised that was a film title from 1966 until I googled it to see when the phrase first appeared! Clearly that feeling that everything is out of control has been around somewhat longer than I’d imagined, but surely becoming harder and harder to ignore.

As we head on into that clean sheet of 2023, I wonder if happiness seems simply unrealistic and out of reach. I recently came across this quote from JC Ryle (a 19th Century Anglican Bishop).

“To be truly happy, a person must be able to look in every direction without uncomfortable feelings. They must be able to look back to the past without guilty fears; they must be able to look around themselves without discontent; they must be able to look forward without anxious dread.”

What a challenging, and yet thought-provoking statement. How are things in every direction for you? Some of us look back at the past with deep shame and resolutely turn to the future so that we don’t have to face the reality of what has happened to us and through us. Others of us are so scared of what the future might hold, that we keep our eyes firmly fixed on the past when everything felt safer. Still others of us try to live in the moment without care for others, for the past and ignoring what lies ahead. But none of these approaches are ultimately very satisfying. I wonder if JC Ryle was onto something all those years ago? For him and for Christians around the world, the secret of such happiness is not a thing nor a mindset, but a who. A few weeks ago at Christmas we celebrated again the coming of Jesus, 2000 years ago. An irrelevant middle eastern religious leader, or perhaps, “Immanuel – God with us” as the Bible declares it.

This is why JC Ryle, and millions of Christians both before and after him, have been able to do a genuine 360 look at life without distress. Once you have truly discovered that God is with you, it enables you to tackle life differently however much difficulty lies ahead and whatever has passed already. Maybe something worth exploring in 2023?

With every blessing
Rev’d Joanna Levasier

Church Office: 01483 825533