But do we really want a "happy" new year? Dictionary.com provides this definition for happy:
1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
Sounds like a good thing to wish someone, doesn't it?
So what's my problem? Why do I want to remove a word that's defined by other words like "delighted", "pleasure", "joy" and "contentment"? Because I think we tend to use them interchangeably when there are real and significant differences in meaning.
Look at the examples given: "to be happy to see a person." "A happy mood; a happy frame of mind." These examples are of temporal things. Moods and frames of mind change from day to day - sometimes hour to hour. Or, if we're being brutally honest - from minute to minute depending on circumstances.
It sounds cliche, but it IS true...happiness is fleeting.
On the other hand, the actual words "contentment" and "joy", go deeper. They aren't dependent ON a situation or circumstance, but exist in spite of them.
The same definition source says of the word "content": "assenting to or willing to accept circumstances. Mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are. Peace of mind."
The ultimate resource, the Bible, lists joy, not happiness, as a fruit of the spirit. We are told in James 1:2 to "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." Happiness is not sticking around in the face of trials folks, happiness is a fair-weather friend.
And Philippians 4:11b-12 says: "for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
When was the last time you were delighted, pleased or glad to be hungry and broke? I'd guess never - but you can still have an overall joy within you knowing that God is in control of all circumstances, always.
So as you head back to work or greet others you're seeing for the first time this year, think about what wishing them a "happy new year" really means. Do you wish them temporal pleasure? Or deep, lasting joy?
As much as we like to hope each new year is better than the last, the real truth is none of us knows what the new year holds - but we can assume it will not be 52 weeks of smooth sailing.
There will be moments of fleeting happiness in the next year, but the greater gift is to find contentment and joy in the exciting and mundane, the simple and the difficult.
My wish for you is a Joyous New Year filled with God's blessings and deep-rooted contentment whatever comes your way!