Rev. Pat James
As we begin another year some folks look to the future with fear and worry, others are excited and optimistic, but one thing we all have in common is we all hope for happiness.
Every one wants to be happy: that’s a universal desire. If we cut through all the rhetoric, we find that everyone’s real goal is happiness.
Blaise Pascal, who was a 17th century philosopher said this: “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. This is the motive of every man, even of those who hang themselves!”
When writing the Declaration of Independence our founding fathers thought of happiness as a very precious aspect of life. They wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Happiness is the underlying theme of most advertising. The message is; “You want to be happy? Buy this product, go to this movie, use our credit card.” But for all of our focus on how to be happy, it seems there are very few people who are truly happy.
A valid question might be to ask ourselves is, “What makes me happy?” I suspect there are some common responses to that question. Many would say happiness is greater financial stability as well as spendability! Someone has said, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but I wouldn’t mind trying.”
Most people relate happiness to having more money, that is why millions of people are trying to become happy by winning the lottery. However, the chances of winning are something like 80 million to one! Not good odds if you’re trying to find happiness that way!
According to reports I have read even those who have won the lottery usually don’t end up all that happy! It is very doubtful that many people are going to find happiness in the lottery!
I read recently that, when asked what happiness was, a lady replied, “Happiness is seeing your husband’s old girlfriend … and seeing that she is fatter than you!” It seems that we all have an opinion of what will make us happy, and for most people it involves the circumstances of their life.
We can learn very important truths about happiness by studying the writings of the great Apostle Paul in the Bible. In the book of Acts we are told that he had been arrested and was being brought before King Agrippa. We wouldn’t think there would be a whole lot of happiness in that situation, but read what Paul said in Acts 26:2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews…”
If happiness is a product of our circumstances then Paul had no business being happy! He ought to be miserable and filled with fear because of his circumstances (on trial and in chains) but Paul understood that his happiness was not dictated by his circumstances!
Paul was happy because he knew that he was in God’s will, that he was in close fellowship with God and that he was doing what God wanted him to do. You see, Paul’s source of happiness was God and ONLY God!
The truth is, if our happiness comes only through maintaining a sufficient flow of favorable circumstances, then we will see very little happiness in life! Even if we could determine our happiness by circumstances we wouldn’t be happy for long because we have little or no control over our circumstances! Happiness pursued through circumstances will always lead to disappointment!
If we look for happiness in what this temporary world has to offer then life will be a profound disappointment! True happiness will never be found in pursuing the things of this world! So the question naturally follows: “What will make us happy?”
One day a big dog saw a little puppy chasing its tail … and he asked, “Why are you chasing your tail so?” The puppy said, “I have mastered philosophy; I have solved the problems of the universe which no dog before me has rightly solved; I have learned that the best thing for a dog is happiness, and that happiness is my tail. Therefore I am chasing it; and when I catch it, I will have happiness.”
The old dog said, “My son, I, too, have paid attention to the problems of the universe, and I have formed some opinions. I too, have judged that happiness is a fine thing for a dog, and I too have found that happiness is in my tail. But I have noticed that when I chase after it, it keeps running away from me, but when I just go about my business, it comes after me.”
“Happiness is not found by chasing after it; true happiness is a by-product of pursuing God.” True happiness is something that comes when we truly commit ourselves to living our life in obedience to God, seeking only to do His will. That is the only way to real and lasting happiness!
In Psalm 16:11 the Psalmist wrote, “Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.”
I believe most folks would agree that God has all wisdom; we would also agree that the Bible contains God’s wise instructions for living fulfilled and happy lives here on earth. Now, with that in mind, please read the following selected verses of Scripture;
Psalms 144:15 “ … How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!”
Proverbs 16:20, “He who gives attention to the word shall find good, And blessed (or happy) is he who trusts in the LORD.”
Proverbs 29:18 “ …. happy is he who keeps the law.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
John 15:11 (Jesus), “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Happiness is found in the pursuit of God; and when do that we will discover that God is pursuing us with His love!
Do you want to be happy? Sure you do! Pursue God and watch happiness come after you!
Rev. Pat James is the pastor emeritus of True Hope Christian Fellowship Church at 2506 18th. Ave. Forest Grove, OR 97116 ~ Phone: 503-357-8534 ~ email firstname.lastname@example.org