The Rueful Romance of Happiness

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 12, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

If you were to conduct a survey of the top values of almost any individual these three would be among the top: love, happiness, and peace. What most people do not know is that these are the first three signs of God’s Spirit living in a person’s life according to Galatians 5:22: “Love, joy, peace…”

Happiness is as elusive a creature as bigfoot. We see pictures of happiness in sales ads selling everything from cigarettes to soap, and some of our friends have claimed to see happiness first hand; yet, we are not sure they are telling the truth. More often than not, happiness is what other people have and it is what we have only experienced in a fleeting way – a whiff of happiness.

Happiness is a romantic notion that if I could create the right circumstances, I would experience continuous happiness. But this isn’t true, of course. Such circumstances do not exist. In fact, the opposite is true. Focusing on creating happiness for myself only heightens my awareness of just how elusive it is. This was the conclusion that the author of the book of Ecclesiastes drew.

He says, “I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that proved to be vain” (Ecclesiastes 2:1). He goes on to try and find happiness in laughter and alcohol, but concludes they don’t provide happiness. He undertook giant building projects like a huge palace with gardens and parks with thousands of fruit trees. He built ponds, lakes, and reservoirs to supply vast forests of flowering trees. But none of these building projects brought happiness. Then he decided to amass giant heaps of silver and gold, which he did. He assembled the best singers in his country. He says that none of these things could produce happiness. Then he built himself a harem and denied himself no pleasure. This too was vain, he concluded. Sex did not make him happy. Nothing did. He says, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure… everything was meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).

Proverbs 23:5 was also written by Solomon. It says, “Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone.” The same is true of happiness. If you notice that you are happy you feel content in the moment, but it is fleeting. What replaces the happiness is an insecurity about future happiness. Will it return? It is the temporary nature of happiness that alarms us the most. This idea is perfectly represented in the following poem:
Rose kissed me today,
But will she kiss me tomorrow?
Be that as it may
Rose kissed me today,
But the pleasure gives way,
To an uncertain sorrow.
Rose kissed me today,
But will she kiss me tomorrow?

     -Henry Austin Dobson

If you replace the name Rose with the word happiness, you will see that the idea fits perfectly. This is a highly structured poem where the lines are exactly repeated. Lines one and two express a happy mood, but the mood quickly changes to worry by the time the exact lines are repeated to close the poem. Such is the transitory nature of happiness; it kissed me today, but will it kiss me tomorrow?

If happiness is fleeting and elusive, what hope do we have of finding it? Worse yet, if you take only this life or this material world as the measure, you can’t hope to find happiness, for we all return to dust and blow away. But what did Jesus say? “Seek first the Kingdom of heaven and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

You cannot find happiness. It finds you, stays for a moment like a bird on a branch, and then flits away. It just happens. That is why it is called HAPPiness. Happen and happy come from the same root word and they both convey a sense of being temporary.

But when we add the life to come into our figuring, that is, when we seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we are able to add another dimension. We don’t just turn to dust and blow away; we see God and are judged by Him. He makes all things right again, and if we are Christians, we are allowed to spend eternity with Him in His new creation.

Focusing on this Kingdom gives us great joy. Joy is knowing that what God has given to me cannot be taken away. It is a permanent blessing in the face of a very temporary world. If you want to experience true joy, open your heart to Christ. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Joy is the result of taking Jesus at His word and trusting Him enough to follow Him through this life into the next, more permanent one.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.