Wednesday, December 16, 2015

True Happiness

A Summer Shower by Charles Edward Perugini 1888

Personal happiness has been a big concern in our culture. Our forebearers, however, would have been surprised at our focus on happiness. They would have, instead sought to do the things and make the sacrifices that result in peace of mind and personal satisfaction. The idea of trying to do good in order to feel good is something each generation has to be taught. 

While searching the scriptures for references to happiness, I was interested to find that things relating to happiness are not exactly easy or pleasant.

Consider the Beatitudes in the gospels: Each one begins with the word "blessed", which in the Koine Greek is "happy." When you use the word "happy" in place of "blessed", it brings out the meaning in these verses in Matthew 5:

"Happy are they who mourn..."
"Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake..."

These are just two of the verses that seem like contradictions to we moderns who have a shallow understanding of happiness.

"Happy are they who mourn" - Do you tend to hold back tears, not wanting to indulge in grief or sentiment? Consider Acts 20:37 when the Apostle Paul was departing: "And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him."  We know these people can shed tears in moments of trial and pain, amd yet still have deep happiness. 

Happiness comes from things that do not always bring about giggles and smiles: reverence, chastisement,  endurance,  suffering,  reproach,  labor,  wisdom and understanding-- these are hard things!  One does not automatically think of them when they hear the word "happy".

Happy is the man who is always reverent.. Proverbs 28:14

Behold, we count them happy which endure.. James 5:11

But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: 1 Peter 3:14

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;  1 Peter 4:14

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth:  Job 5:17

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Psalm 128:2

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. Proverbs 3:13

It can be reasonably concluded by the study of these things, that a person under adverse circumstances, who is going through disappointments, can still be happy. Sometimes we judge a person who is always smiling and laughing as being happy, while a person who has a pensive look on his face is not happy, but the opposite can be true.

 If you have ever raised children, you know there were times when silliness had to be quickly corrected because it was the result of foolishness that could endanger the child both physically and spiritually. Mature parents need to be alert and recognize the sound of pure, good laughter and derisive mocking and sarcasm. It is good to laugh, and laughter must be for the right reasons and in the right spirit.

Teach your children to strive for personal happiness that comes from self control, willingness to learn, doing jobs well, and being polite. These things will result in a feeling of well-being. The pursuit of "feeling good" has been so strongly promoted that few people today understand what true happiness is.

The scripture references to happiness makes it a great deal easier to understand what our Founding Fathers meant by the words, "the pursuit of happiness."  It means we can gain happiness by the hard work that it takes to reach a worthy goal.

Today I think many people who have not carefully investigated the word "happy" believe they have the right to do as they please if it makes them happy, but a careful study of the concept of happiness will make it clear that happiness is something that comes from things like faithfulness, perseverance, and contentment.

Certainly, much more can be said about the subject of happiness. I have not written in detail of the way these various hard things contribute to happiness, but perhaps you may define and analyze them with your children. They need to understand how the qualities of endurance, perseverance, labor, amd suffering contribute to their happiness.

People who really understand happiness can get through the ups and downs of life without despair or bitterness. Like the spider, they start all over each time the rain washes out their work.  True happiness is derived from a deep spiritual desire to do what is good and right. We must train our thinking so that when we hear the word "happy" we know what it is really made of.


Mrs. Christopher Daniels said...

Amen!This is a good and timely post. I need to look into commentary about the mournful being happy. It is a bit more obvious that being reverential can bring happiness like a reward, but mournful? Not so clear.

Toni Marie said...

This is a profoundly illuminating post. Thank you. And Merry Christmas!

Femina said...

Excellent. Insightful. Thank you.

Andrea R said...

Wonderful post, Dear Lydia!

The wisdom in this short study is simply amazing. God Bless, and Merry Christmas!

ladypinktulip said...

Wonderful thoughts so glad we have discussed this in Ladies Bible Class.
Brings joy to know the truth, for the truth shall set us free! Kelly

Polly said...

This is so true. I think my generation and younger in particular have a true misunderstanding of what constitutes happiness. I see people close to me spending time on things that make them 'happy' but have no lasting investment or worth in their lives, and that ultimately will only bring heartbreak or worse. It's a difficult thing to witness. And our culture denigrates some of the things that bring the most lasting joy and life, home life, reading, etc. If we are living in the world, but not being OF the world, we really need to have a clear understanding of what true happiness is and what can bring it into our lives!