“Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart”  Psalm 3:6-7

“These things I have spoken to you; that My joy may remain in you and your joy may be full”  John 15:11

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting but when I searched books on Amazon.com about happiness, I received 81,379 choices.  I am also an author of books but fortunately I have not written a book about happiness because there would be quite a lot of competition.  If you choose all departments on Amazon it jumps to over 366,000.  Google happiness and the total jumps up just a little; to 354,000,000!  I guess it’s safe to say that happiness is a topic that a significant number of people are interested in (I confess, yours truly included).

I won’t bore you with too many,  but you know what the world teaches; happiness can be found in:

Material things – the right car(s), house(s), boat, clothes, jewelry, property, …..

Financial things – money, salary, stocks, bonds, return on investment, gold, silver, …..

Habits – exercise, diet, sleep, eat mainly meat, don’t eat any meat

Fun – vacation, retirement, alcohol, leisure time, sex, drugs, …..

Other – mindset, attitude, religion, friends, power, job, loving family and on and on and on

In one of our country’s most sacred documents, non other than the Declaration of Independence it boldly proclaims that a self-evident, unalienable right, right up there with human equality, life and freedom, is the pursuit of happiness.  First, please don’t misunderstand me, for I’m not saying that there is no value to exercise or diet, having a great job, loving family, etc.  Yet interestingly enough, with all those books, written about it, all that information on the internet about it; roughly 7.2 billion human beings searching for it; no one has definitively cracked the code.  No one has been able to derive a formula, put forth a process or invent a device that guarantees happiness.  That is a curious thing, unless of course, that ability to be truly, consistently happy, does not rest totally within the human realm of influence.

King David knew this, at least in terms of gladness.  Countenance is a person’s facial expression, the way they look at you.  David was saying that God’s very countenance is light and the simple act of God lifting His countenance toward us filled his heart with gladness.

Jesus Christ knew this.  Jesus Christ new the joy of being in the Father’s love.  What Jesus had just spoken to them was that if they will follow Jesus commandments; because Jesus abides in the Father and the Father loves Jesus, then the disciples can ask for whatever they want and the Father will grant it for them.  He knew and told them, that His joy would remain in them and therefore their own joy would be complete.

This takes me back to a very profound but brief exchange I had with a colleague in the Air Force when we roommates on an exercise.  We had the day off and he was getting ready to go out and I happen to be reading my bible.  He stopped and very respectfully asked me about the value I perceived and received from reading the bible and believing in Jesus Christ.  I briefly recounted many of the blessings; family, success in job and school, health etc, that I had received and felt had come from Christ.  He then, in curiosity, respect and no confrontation asked what I believe to be the deepest, most paramount question for any or all of us.  He asked: “Couldn’t you take credit for all those things?”  My answer in no way measured up to the importance of the question as I replied something about I possibly could but, knowing myself, did not think taking credit would be accurate.  With no more conversation, he left the room.  However, that question and the sincerity with which it was asked has echoed down the years to me; can’t or shouldn’t I take credit for it.

You see the ramifications of the answer can’t be overstated.  If I take credit, if I believe I’m responsible for, if I believe that I’m in control of, then off I go searching through 80,000 books, 350,000,000 bits of information hoping to come across the answer to being happy; and note you can substitute the words, wise, healthy, rich, powerful, and on and on into the space after “being”.  Yet even if I find the answer, will I be able to consistently execute that answer to achieve the results?

Starting in the book of Genesis and continuing through to the book of Revelation it seems pretty clear that we’re not to take on the responsibility for, nor the belief that we can find on our own, nor is it accurate that we take credit for, finding the answers to questions about being happy, or wise or healthy etc.  It seems rather clear that we are to look to Our Heavenly Father for those things.  It is in our belief that He supplies those things; not in some begrudging or random fashion; but in a joyous and loving fashion that we find both confidence and humility.  Thus to be able to receive those things, like happiness, we must have faithful belief in Him.  That our belief in Him would lead to an ever closer, loving relationship where we strive, and yes stumble, but still strive to keep the commandments of His Son Jesus Christ.  That our belief in Him would lead us to sincerely praise His Holy Name, knowing that good, happiness, peace, wisdom, love, in short all blessings in this life come from Him.  Thus there’s really only one book we need own; the book of His Word.  The only information we need to know is how much Our Heavenly Father loves us.  After all He gave His Only Son as a sacrifice for us did he not?  Praise be His Holy Name.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we thank and praise You for Your Love that sustains us that You’ve seen fit to give us all that we will always need.  That You sustain us through our material needs, our emotional needs and most importantly our spiritual needs.  Thank you for the joy that You have placed in our hearts.  Forgive us Dear Father when we look to other things than You to fulfill our needs.  Fill us with Your Spirit who testifies to Your supremacy and sufficiency of all that we will ever need or rightly want and all that Your will would have us accomplish.  We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen

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