While I was in Texas, I attended my parents’ church and heard part of a sermon series called “Don’t Drink the Kool-aid”.  LOVE that title!  We do, after all, live in a Kool-aid sluggin’ society, buying into anything and everything that might make us a little bit happier.

This weekend, at my own church, we took part in a sermon series called “Island Living” (our sanctuary is currently filled with sand and it’s set up just like a beach with people in their beach chairs…I’m not kidding!!).  The message for the week was on managing everyday stress, and talked about trials; the how and why of God’s use of stress in our lives.  
In both services, there was a key phrase that was given and has been resonating with me ever since:
God is more interested in our holiness than in our happiness.

Whoa!  If God is loving, shouldn’t He want my happiness over everything else?  Ever find yourself saying or thinking that?  Deep down, we want to be happy because it’s easier and feels better. In this frame of mind, we’re likely to view our troublesome situations as punishment from a God who doesn’t love us as much as we thought.  When we think this way, like a glaring white slip falling below a hem-line, our immaturity is showing.  Don’t feel bad if this is hitting close to home…we’ve ALL thought this way at one time or another, and, as humans, I think we battle it most of the time.  After all, NOBODY want trials.
But James (James 1:2) said to count it as pure joy when we suffer.  He goes on to say that the testing of our faith develops perseverance and that perseverance must finish its work so that we can be MATURE and COMPLETE, lacking nothing.  In other words, God uses trials in our lives to turn our immaturity to maturity, our lack into our gain, our “surface” happiness into a deep well of joy that comes from a living spring of holiness.
When it comes right down to it, happiness is temporal and depends on our circumstances.  The joy that comes from holiness is lasting and exists IN SPITE OF our circumstances.  Oh that we would be willing to trade the temporary refreshment of the kool-aid for the quenching nourishment of Living Water, and find JOY on the rugged road to HOLINESS.