While sitting in church yesterday, I listened as the leader was preparing us to dive into the book of Psalms. The book is a combination of lamentations and rejoicing; it’s heavier with lamentation at the beginning and weighted more greatly with rejoicing in the latter. The songs of Jesus are great reading, and one of my favorite books.
The focus of the message was our pursuit of happiness through the reading of psalms 1-2. Pastor Don shared a couple powerful statistics regarding our pursuit of happiness. The United States, ranks 25th for relative happiness, while ranking #1 for mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
In a nation where everything is right at our fingertips, how can this be? How can we fall short of Guatemala, Columbia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile, the United Arab Emirates, even Honduras?
To me, it is blindingly obvious. We are so consumed and obsessed with happiness that we have set it as a prize, a trophy that we frantically are working for. What we have is never enough, we are succumbed to a vicious cycle of seeking more, desiring greater, never satisfied with our current state. The harder we try to find and create happiness, the further from us it gets. We are constantly checking in with ourselves and with our friends to see if this moment, if this activity, this day is bringing us happiness and compare our level of happiness against our friends.
Here’s the grave problem with this: happiness is not something pursued. It isn’t a trophy to be won after lots of hard work. Happiness isn’t something out of our reach, that we must ‘just try harder’, to attain. We don’t deserve happiness simply because we chance after it and do things that ‘should bring happiness.’ Because we try to pursue something that can’t be pursued, we will always fall short. When contentment isn’t enough, feelings of anxiety and even depression creep into our minds. We wonder if we are doing enough, why we aren’t happy, why we can’t achieve happiness, why it’s always just out of reach? We have feelings of anxiousness even when we recognize that everything is good in our lives, because we are striving for more. Contentment is no longer enough, we feel we must push to a greater sense of pride in our lives that only happiness would bring.
True joy comes from obeying God. When we meditate on His word, happiness is the result. Nothing we do in life for ourselves will result in long term happiness. It will be feign, and short lived. To experience true and lasting happiness, we must change how we expect to experience it. Rather than reading self-help books, seeking happiness in wealth, in food, in others, in changing jobs; turn to the one life manual given to us from our Father. He has provided in it all that is needed for every experience in our lives. When we follow His commands to love one another, and when we take delight in God’s plan for us, not our own plans; when we let go of trying to control our own lives in desperate pursuit of happiness and trust in God, happiness will find us.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37: 4-6
The joy the Lord brings us is everlasting and all consuming.
God bless you friends and have a great week.