The Race for Happiness

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Perhaps no athlete in the history of modern sport suffered more humiliation than Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1947 Robinson was called up to become the major leagues’ first African-American player. Dodgers’ owner Branch Rickey insisted on securing a promise from Robinson not to respond or retaliate to any insult, injury, or threat from fans or other players.

For that promise, Robinson suffered. For the entire first season, fans and players alike pummeled him with every politically incorrect term known to stupidity. His legs were lacerated by players using spiked shoes like tiger claws sliding into base. Robinson and his young family received threats in a constant barrage of anonymous letters and calls.

Yet by season’s end, Robinson not only had broken baseball’s color barrier, he had inspired a generation with his grace, dignity, and peace—ideas that found their way into the Civil Rights movement. Robinson later said, “A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives.”

Most of us run our lives in the direction of our own comfort, gain, and joy. Scripture teaches, however, that true personal joy lies not in the pursuit of happiness, comfort, wealth, or even contentment—but in growth through trial, and often amid personal sacrifice and humility.

But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:9-12

Our willingness to serve God and others at substantial personal cost is the only race to true joy and happiness. Jackie Robinson ran that race and found satisfaction and worth for himself and his race. Are we willing to endure great cost for Christ? On the other side of pain with purpose lies the happiness we sought all along.