What is the key to Happiness? This is an age-old question that many of us in some way will ask ourselves at least once in our lives. It may come in several forms, such as Why am I so miserable? Why can’t I be happy? What makes me happy? It even could lead into, what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
In my journey through the Bible, I passed a chapter in Psalm today that described happy people, Psalm 84 which begins with the phrase, “How Lovely is your dwelling place”. I knew this one from the late 90s praise and worship song “Better is One Day” By Charlie Hall, which starts out the same, but over and over again it says in the chorus, “Better is One Day in Your Courts, better is one day in Your house, better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere. ”
In this chapter, verse 4 says “How happy are those who reside in Your house, who praise You continually.” and again in verse 5, ‘Happy are the people whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.’
We can shake out a few points on where we can find happiness from these two verses. The first is that happiness comes from those who dwell with the Lord. The Second is that happiness comes when we praise Him continually. We find happiness thirdly, when we rely on God for our strength and, the fourth one is that happiness is found in those whose hearts are set on pilgrimage; I might need another post to tackle the last one because even I got a bit confused when I got there. Research was required.
Okay, great discovery, what does this mean for me? How is this supposed to make me happy? From evidence of my personal journey, I can agree that these four points below are true and I implore you to test my results for yourself.
Dwell with the Lord. This doesn’t mean that you need to go setup a hammock at church or sleep in the pews. To dwell with the Lord would mean that God becomes the center of my life, that my heart becomes a place that God resides, that my mind is always conscious of His presence. Since He is with us always, the only thing that really keeps us from “dwelling” with the Lord, is our desire to do so. For so many reasons we try to do things away from God, we try to do things on our own, maybe out of pride or ignorance. When we acknowledge His presence and His authority over our lives, submitting to His rule, we dwell with Him and throughout the Bible it says that this will bring us happiness.
Praise continually. I’ve attached a sermon by Pastor Cedric Beckles from the Bahamas below who does an excellent job at digging into this topic deeper. In this sermon Pastor Beckles tells us that the same part of our brain that worries, is the same part that also worships. He says that you cannot worry and worship at the same time. Try it, it doesn’t work. When we chose worship over worry, we give our fears over to God and we choose to praise Him for who He is and let Him take care of the rest. In fact, in Luke 12:22-34 Jesus tells His followers not to worry. Easily enough, when we are not worrying, we are able to worship, and in worship we will be happy.
Rely on God for your strength. Most days when I am serving I get to the end of my energy but still have daylight requiring its expense and responsibility begging for my attention when I have nothing left to give. A lot of times I don’t want to go on, I’m tired, exhausted, burnt out, weary is also a good word. There is no argument that serving others brings me joy, but there is an energy that seems to surge from nowhere when mine has run out. Isaiah 40:29-31 is where I go in my head when I realize that I am spent, but there is still work to be done. It says that “those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint”. Instead of “I think I can, I think I can” when I feel weak like the Little Engine That Could, I go to Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength”.
Set your heart on a pilgrimage. Don’t go building a set of boats to sail to the promised land wearing funny hats, to go have turkey dinner at Plimoth Rock. I have to admit that this is where my mind went, but it’s not far off from the journey that christians travel. Once we are in Christ, we become pilgrims moving to a new world, heaven, we are strangers, travellers on a journey to sainthood, sanctification through Christ. We become ambassadors from that world to the one we live in now. Our old lives become something new and as pilgrims on a journey we know that this is all temporary: pain, suffering, illness, sadness, depression…etc we can be happy knowing that it too, like a season, will pass and what waits for us on the other side is God’s perfect glory. The journey gets easier when you know what awaits you at the end and that brings happiness in the present.
Happiness does not mean that we will be millionaires. Happiness doesn’t mean that we will have a life without pain. Happiness is simply defined as contentment. The key to happiness isn’t having and chasing more, more, more, it is, by its own definition, less. We can be content, because we know that the Lord has our needs covered, and we can be happy because we dwell with the Lord. We are then able to praise without worry; we have abounding strength and our paths are set to Heaven.