“Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.” (Psalm 128:1-2)
God and Happiness
I don’t believe a person can find happiness - any kind of real happiness - apart from God.
We tend to think that a lot of different scenarios will make us happy. If I land the perfect job... if I have a certain income or a certain amount of money in the bank... if I obtain a certain amount of power and influence... if I find the perfect person to spend my life with... if I have great friends... I will be happy. Interesting enough, with respect to the last two things that I just named, research shows that there is a very high correlation between satisfying personal relationships and happiness. (Read The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, by Meik Wiking.) These other things - our desire for wealth, fame, power - tend to leave us wanting when it comes to happiness.
God has designed us for relationship, for collaboration, for co-creativity... for union. And the relationship and union that trumps all other relationships and unions is our relationship and union with God. When that is in place... when that is “right” and good and flowing... then everything else tends to fall into place. When we fear God - and understand this to mean a healthy honoring of God and a sense of awe when we are in the presence of God - then we also tend to learn of and walk in God’s ways. In this relationship with God, we find out rather early on that God’s ways are about love, transformative connection, kindness, compassion, deep listening, forgiveness, non-violence, letting go of the False Self (ego), detaching from our perceived need to be right, and giving up our allegiance to the false kind of power that wants to dominate and/or harm others. This is what Jesus - God-in-the-flesh - models for us. And, when we walk in the ways of God/Christ/Spirit, we “eat the fruit” of the labor of our hands (verse 1, above), and - voila! - things go well with us! Oh, we will have trials, challenges, setbacks, illnesses, conflicts, and even - in the end - death. But none of these have the last word. None of these can take away from the joy and happiness that we experience from the reality of Emmanuel - God-with-us.
Not only are we never abandoned by God, but we are also beloved by God and deeply valued by God. Our lives are given purpose as God gives us things to do - all under the banner of loving and serving others and all creation, in Jesus’ name.
The sure and certain thing you and I can do to cut ourselves off from happiness is to cut ourselves off from God - the One who made us and who calls us into love. God will not cut God’s Triune self off from us, because God is always faithful and always loving. But you and I can cut ourselves off from God, and go down many rabbit holes - none of which will lead us to any real or lasting happiness.
So... do you want to be happy? Then start and end your quest with God - the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Seek God, walk in God’s ways, and you will be happy. It shall go well with you.
That is the wisdom of the Psalmist today. And that has also been my own experience.