THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
Based on the inspirational true story of Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happiness is a movie that follows the journey of a father who after a series of setbacks, struggles to make ends meet and provide for his 5-year-old son.
While this movie is one person’s story, it has many themes and challenges that many of us can resonate with to some degree.
Whether it’s relational challenge, financial challenge, or maybe challenges within our soul; we can all learn an important key that can steady us through any storm of life. That key is resilience. Resilience is defined as ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty’
It’s a quality we all desire and we can all have. A resilient life is not just about one moment that we decide to be strong, but it’s about many seemingly insignificant decisions that we make, that ultimately builds a life of resilience.
In other words, ‘A Resilient life is hope outworked through many faithful small steps’.
Perhaps it’s an unexpected tax bill, breakdown in relationship or a negative health report that we can be facing – these are real and difficult moments in life that can lead to ask the question ‘Why?’ Why am I facing this challenge, why has life gotten me to this point, why do I have to go through this? And there’s never actually a simple answer to that question.
However, when look at the scriptures, we see that Jesus offers us an anchor of hope during the challenges we face.
John 16:33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have (perfect) peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer (take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted)! For I have overcome the world. (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you).
Our Christian faith doesn’t remove us from the realities of this world that we live in, but our faith gives us a hope for a future. It reminds us that our God is good and that He will show himself to be good.
The Apostle Paul is no stranger to trouble and challenge! A man who has his life radically turned around after an encounter with God becomes a powerful voice of truth in the early church. He is a man that knew trouble, persecution, he was arrested many times and shipwrecked. Yet through it all we get a glimpse of his perspective in the writing of a letter to the Corinthian church. In 1 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul encourages the people to know that they are co labourers with God, and that it is only through the wonder of the supernatural that God grows and builds his church and his people. But is up to us to use what is in our hand to activate our part as co-workers in God’s service. A resilient life understands this: I co-labour with God. I need his miraculous power, but I also need to activate my part. It’s Gods responsibility to bring the increase, however you and I have the responsibility of planting and sowing.
God needs us to activate what he’s put in our hands. The reality is sometimes the challenges we face cause us to shrink back or become stagnant in the pursuit in all he has for us.
Like the well-known saying says, ‘It’s easier to steer a moving ship than the one that’s sitting at the docks’.
With the thought in mind that resilience is hope outworked through faithful small steps, have time to discuss the following questions.
- Have you stopped moving? Do you find yourself feeling stuck or stagnant?
- Are there areas in your life that you’ve given up on? Why? Trials, tribulations? Read John 16:33
- What does scripture in John 16:33 say about the challenges we face in life?
If we are still willing, there is hope for each of us. It doesn’t have to start with big – it can start with a simple decision of saying ‘I am going to try again, I’m going to say yes again, I’m going to get up again, ask again, pray again’.
Colossians 3:23 says ‘Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from what is in your hand), as something done for the Lord and not for men’.
- What does Colossians 3:23 mean to you? How do this scripture apply to your life now?
- What is in your hand? Time, skills, ability, gift, resource etc…
- What is your next small step in being faithful with what God has put in your hand?
A resilient life understands ‘I’m not a victim, I choose how I respond’
Having a victim mentality has us thinking we are owed something because of the challenges we’ve endured. This kind of thinking disempowers us from owning the decisions we can make in this moment, and we end up living at the mercy of other people’s decisions or our circumstances, letting those things dictate our whole life.
Psalm 71 says that God will restore us of all that has stolen from our life.
God is a restorer, we might feel broken, discouraged, struggling, or finding it hard to get the strength to go again but God wants to lift us up, to restore us and to comfort us. We’re not a victim. In Christ we are a victor.
Remember, resilience is hope outworked through many faithful small steps. And one small step we can all choose to make is to continue to do good.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not loose heart and grow weary and faint acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. So then, as opportunity opens to us, let us do good (morally) to all people (not only being useful and profitable to them, but also what is for their spiritual good and advantage). Be mindful to be a blessing.
We see in the journey of Chris Gardner in the pursuit of Happiness, time and time again, Chris chooses to look up and smile through the struggle presented to him. Even though sometimes the gravity of the situation causes him to have a bad day, or a bad moment, he doesn’t let that dictate how he responds in his life.
The truth is, it’s ok to have a bad day, its ok to have a bad moment. It’s a realistic part of life. But in that we need to become mindful that those days or moment don’t become that pattern of our response. We need to ask ourselves, – Is my response always anger, is it always frustration? Sarcasm or negativity?
It’s important to evaluate our responses because sometimes, it can happen very subtly. No one ever intends to become a negative person. But through different life circumstance we can find ourselves living out of a victim mentality rather than a faith filled reality.
Today, Chris is a philanthropist, funding projects that create opportunity for low-income earners and others in need.
Chris had a hope that things would turn around, but it was his faithfulness with the small, that ultimately set him up to become that man he is today.
2 Corinthians 4:16- 18. Therefore, we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied through fear). Though our outer man is (progressively) decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being (progressively) renewed day after day. For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory. Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are everlasting.
It can be because of our actions, that others will have a platform set to live their best life. Or, because of the breakthrough we’ve faced, that it creates a faith for others to overcome as-well.
Let’s be people who are not overwhelmed by what we can’t do, but that we will be faithful with the step we can take.
- Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Does this scripture shape your perspective on how you view challenges? Why/why not?
- How can we gain confidence from this Scripture, that the challenges of today will pass and that we can trust God to work all things out for good?
- What challenge are you facing now that you can put in light of eternity? How can you look at the challenge differently?
- What would be your natural response when times get tough? Quit, over-react, get angry, push through?
- Do you see a pattern that needs to change?
- What are you believing for to see breakthrough in your life? Have time to pray for each other.