Following on from yesterday’s blog, the next word I wrote in my Prayer Journal that I would be is … Happy!
Today I will be happy. The definition of happy according to the Oxford Dictionary is contented (satisfied with what one has), pleased (showing or feeling pleasure or satisfaction) and fortunate (lucky). When I thought about how I would define happy I found it hard to answer! I felt that it was more than contentment. To me to be content is to be satisfied but to be happy is more than this.
The Hebrew for happy, ashar, esher is used interchangeably with blessed. We so commonly use the #blessed in today’s society to indicate that we are happy! To be happy is to feel blessed.
So, what makes us happy?
Life: An old Scottish motto states “Be happy while y’er leevin, For y’er a lang time deid.” This tells us life itself should make us happy because that is all we have, when we die, we cease to exist.
Childhood: “Ah! Happy years! Once more who would not be a boy?” Lord Byron
Absence of Pain: “But all the happiness mankind can gain, is not in pleasure, but in the rest from pain.”, Dryden
Love: “Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, help to make the earth happy, like the heaven above.” Julia Carney
Morality: “Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy.” Benjamin Franklin
Books: “Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know, Are a substantial world, both pure and good. Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood. Our pastime and our happiness will grow.” William Wordsworth
Worldly Things: “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” Robert Louis Stevenson
Thoughts of Heaven: “There is a happy land, Far, far away, Where Saints in glory stand, Bright, bright as day.” Andrew Young, Hymn: There is a Happy Land
So, how can we obtain this happiness?
By gaining wisdom: “Happy are your wives! Happy are these your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!” Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, 2 Chronicles 9:7
By pleasing God: “For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner He has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:26
By believing God: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
By trusting in God: “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” Proverbs 10:28
By having God as our Lord: “Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!” Psalm 144:15
By putting the Lord before you: “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[a] rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” Psalm 16:8-9
By keeping God’s law: Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
By looking to God: Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
By dreaming God’s dreams: “When the dream in our heart is one that God has planted there, a strange happiness flows into us. At that moment all of the spiritual resources of the universe are released to help us. Our praying is then at one with the will of God and becomes a channel for the Creator’s always joyous, triumphant purposes for us and our world.” Catherine Marshall
By giving our hearts to God: “We are to give our heart to God that he may make it happy, with a happiness which stretches its capacity to the full” Gordon S Wakefield
By not looking for it: “Happiness is never found until we have the grace to stop looking for it” J I Packer
By obeying God: “Man still wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.” Augustine of Hippo
You may notice that all the quotes above on how to obtain happiness involve God. That is because I believe that true, deep rooted happiness and contentment can only come from a convicted faith in the Lord Jesus. Only then can we be at peace with our inevitable death and the fragility of life around us. Only then can we find happiness in the toughest of times since we know that God is with us and all we do is for God’s glory and when we are obedient to Him, he smiles down upon us. Perhaps this is the reason why Billy Graham said “Christians are the only people in the world who have anything to be happy about” and Bonaventure said “Since happiness is nothing but the enjoyment of the highest good, and since the highest good is above, then no one can be happy unless he rise above himself, not by a physical ascent, but by an ascent of the heart.”
I will admit I know a lot of incredibly happy non-Christians. I believe this is because of general provision. Matthew 5:45 “that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
God provides for all, regardless of faith, so undoubtedly, non-Christians will be blessed with happiness, but true, deep rooted contentment can only come from the assurance of Jesus and His salvific act. Happiness, like all characteristics of God, are not merely traits that He manifests but that He is. God is Happiness as C S Lewis explains “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
The additional provision for Christians is that God will be our strength in times of weakness. As Christians, even amidst the pain we should look back at our happy times and smile because we are to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3. We should not feel as others do that our past happiness increases our current pain. “For truly in adverse fortune the worst sting of misery is to have been happy.” Boethius. “There is no greater sorrow than to recall a time of happiness in misery”, Dante Alighieri. “That is a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.” Alfred Tennyson
I have used a lot of quotes here, the reason being I wanted to get a wide picture on what happiness is and how we are to obtain it. The answer quite clearly is found only in Christ Jesus so pray with me:-
Lord, Jesus, Our Heavenly Father,
How great you are that you provide us with happiness and contentment for our earthly lives, that we have the hope that we will not cease to exist as others believe but that we will rise again to the highest heaven and live eternally at your side.
Lord, strengthen us to see our blessings even during our painful seasons,
Be with us as we grieve,
Be with us in our sorrow,
Be with us in our difficulties,
Be with us always,
We ask these things in your wonderful and precious name,
Love and Blessings