re: Happiness

Listen, I have never been unhappy in a Mexican restaurant.

But what if there is a happiness you can have had even when you cannot afford to go to the Mexican restaurant?

A happiness that is higher than queso and margaritas.

Within evangelicalism (and maybe beyond) there is a tradition of saying there is a difference between “joy” and “happiness.”

Usually it goes like this…”Happiness is temporary and joy is eternal.”

Happiness is shallow and joy is depth.

Sounds good.

But the Scriptures never really make this distinction. Actually, there is not really any distinction between joy and happiness to be found in the Scriptures.

The Scriptures seem to be more concerned with what we are happy and joyful about.

About three years ago I began memorizing passages of Scripture in earnest. The goal was to fill my mind with a voice of truth and peace amidst a world of lies and chaos.

This was not long before I lost a job I loved, by the way.

So I memorized Psalm 1.

The first line? “Happy is the man…”

And yes, even though you might have memorized it as “blessed,” that word’s primary meaning is “happy.”

I wanted to be happy then and I want to be happy now.

What is interesting is that pretty much everyone wants to be happy. There are exceptions…those who want to exert no effort in that direction, come to mind.

And happiness does require effort according to the Psalmist. You have to say “no” to some things and “yes” to others.

He lays it out like this:

A happy person does not:
– walk in the advice of the wicked
– stand in the pathway of sinners
– sit in the seat of mockers

And a happy person does:
– delight in the LORD’s instructions
– and mediates on them day and night

Pretty straight forward.

So, what are you meditating on day and night?

Facebook? Instagram? The rage machine of Twitter? Disney Vacations? The hurt caused by another? Your 401K? Sex? Your body shape? Your frustrating job? Your kid’s travel ball team?

Where does your mind go? Does it help you avoid a life characterized by the list of what happy person does *not* do in Psalm 1?

What are you filling your mind with day in and day out? What is animating your imagination?

Is it giving you a happiness that cannot be taken from you regardless of the grief and sorrow you are feeling?

Is it giving you a happiness far above an emotional reaction to pleasant circumstances?

If you feel a longing for this…a longing for something you know but are rarely experiencing why not put forth that effort?

Set a goal of reading the scriptures throughout your day so that it is more than just a box you tick off.

Set a goal of memorizing passages of Scripture so that those words of truth are filling your mind day and night.

Listen to music that helps you keep your mind on Jesus, the resurrected King.

It’s going to require some effort…you will have to say “no” to some things and “yes” to a vision of the Psalm 1 person.

One thought on “re: Happiness

  1. Woodyb April 20, 2022 / 8:13 am

    hear you, bro; great reminder!

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