Today is “National I Want You To Be Happy Day.” At least the calendar of weird and obscure holidays says so.
I chuckled a bit when I read it. (Hmm, I guess it’s working). But I thought of Abraham Lincoln’s thought-provoking insight, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
We live in a world obsessed with happiness. There are thousands of books on Amazon advertising how to be happy. Among them are “The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People.” “The 18 Rules of Happiness.” “9 Habits of Maximum Happiness.” “How to be Happy, or at least less Sad,”
In their excellent book, “Happiness is a Choice,” Drs. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, observed that many are looking for happiness and seeking inner peace in the wrong places. “They seek for happiness in materialism and do not find it. They seek for joy in sexual prowess but end up with fleeting pleasures and bitter long-term disappointments. They seek inner fulfillment by obtaining positions of power in corporations, in governments, or even in their own families (by exerting excessive control,) but they remain unfulfilled.”
The Bible has a good bit of advice about happiness that is applicable to the 21st century. Consider these three starting points.
(1) Real happiness begins with God. “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord” (Ps 144:15). Since God made man, He knows what makes him tick. What he needs. How he can enjoy life to its fullest. A genuine relationship with the Lord is the right starting place.
(2) Wisdom produces happiness. In Proverbs 3:13-18, the wise man expressed it this way.
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.
Read those words again. Let them sink in. Wisdom is better than silver or gold? Wisdom is more precious than rubies and riches? Wisdom produces pleasantness and peace? Wisdom brings happiness? Yes. Yes. And yes!
(3) Happiness comes when we trust and obey. “He who heeds the word wisely will find good,” observed Solomon, “And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he” (Prov. 16:20).
There’s an old song by the 19th-century hymnist, John Sammis whose refrain repeats this truth.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
I believe that the Biblical definition of happiness leads to something even better–real joy. The joy of the Lord. The joy of faith. Joy in the Holy Spirit. And the joy of salvation. The Bible speaks of this kind of joy 158 times. The word “joy” is closely connected to “grace.” It is that which bestows or occasions pleasure or delight. Grace comes from God. And when you obey God you experience joy.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn 15:11)
Paul penned, “the fruit of the Spirit is joy” (Gal. 5:22).
And it is this joy that can sustain us even in times of trial and support us during days of suffering (Jas 1:2; 1 Pet. 4:13).
Actually, happiness is a by-product and not the goal. When we are seeking God, growing in wisdom, obeying His Word and trusting His guidance, we will find inner joy, peace of mind, and contentment of spirit.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman