Thought I’d post the short devotions I shared at youth band last night:
So I sat my second last exam at uni this morning for a class called Positive Psychology, and one of the main topics on the course was Happiness. It looked at what it means to be happy, and what makes us happy. One of the arguments was actually that people who are religious or spiritual are happier than those who aren’t. I won’t bore you with the details of the literature or studies I wrote about this morning, but the gist of the 3 studies I focused on was that regular churchgoers are happier because they (a) have larger, higher quality support systems, (b) are more likely to maintain good health behaviours (e.g. not smoking/drinking, routine exercise etc.) and (c) often have better mental health as well.
Now whether the research behind these things is solid or not, and whether I agree with all of the points is debatable, however what I do agree with is that one of the most positive aspects of a church community – particularly in the army world where you’re all linked through divisional things like this – is the support network you can build. I think this youth band is a great example of that, as we’ve got a pretty strong sense of community and fellowship within the band. It is definitely about so much more than just making music.
However since it was a secular subject I was studying for, what none of the studies really mentioned was the happiness Christians find from their faith itself, and the apparent joy that can be found in and through God and Jesus. I know how hard it can be and how far from happy getting out of bed on a Sunday morning can make you, and even once you get to your meeting it doesn’t always feel all that joyful or cheery, but there is a deep, intrinsic, internal happiness that can be, and is, found through God.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!”, while Romans 15:13 says
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
It’s important to remember that when things aren’t going too great or you’re not feeling very positive, that God is always there, and things can always get better if you go to him and trust in him.
— I really do believe that one of the best and most positive aspects of being part of a church is the support and care people (hopefully) have for each other. As I said, particularly in a divisional setting within the army, and further than that, it’s a huge source of strength and encouragement for so many. Matt pointed out to me after band last night that over the past 6/7 years since we both left school, many things have changed, we have changed and the people we spend time with have changed – neither of use have any school friends coming to the wedding for a start – but the thing that has remained constant during that time are our friends and support network within, or that was grown in, the Salvation Army. I would not be who I am today without the people I have come to know, befriend, love, and rely on that I met through the army. Regardless of what people, or even I, may think of the religious or Christian side of things, that will always be a positive for me. ⭐️