Are we only happy when other people lose? Sarah finally receives the promise of Isaac and for a few moments she is filled with joy. She’s experienced the impossible – giving birth to a son in her old age. However, it’s not long before her joy is smothered by the presence of Ishmael. She asks that he’s sent away so that he can’t have a piece of a pie that is big enough for both of them.
When our friends post their successes in the areas we’re working towards on facebook do we feel joy or pain? When they look better in their selfie than you do in yours are we glad for them? Sarah received Isaac but it was not enough to be happy. She needed those around her to lose as well for her to be happy. Of course, if this is our model for achieving happiness we will never find it. There will always be a friend doing better than you.
On what then do we build joy into our lives? Are we satisfied when dreams become a reality or are we living from a mindset that says, “I’ll be happy as a long as there are people a few rungs below me.” Jesus proposes another way, that joy might be found in knowing him. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” – John 15:11. This is a different way to joy than the one most of us are currently playing. There is a way to have joy then, but it comes at great cost – it means you have to give up playing the game of who’s up and who’s down. And let’s be honest, do you really want to give that up?