Pursuit of Happiness? Don’t try, for it is futile…
Devotional Thought for this Day:
13 “You have said terrible things about me,” says the LORD. “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’ 14 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? 15 From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’” 16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. 17 “They will be my people,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Malachi 3:13-17 (NLT2)
The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy. The holy heart alone can be the habitation of the Holy Ghost.
59 All this, then, is the office and work of the Holy Spirit, to begin and daily to increase holiness on earth through these two means, the Christian church and the forgiveness of sins. Then, when we pass from this life, he will instantly perfect our holiness and will eternally preserve us in it by means of the last two parts of this article.
I know it is part of the Declaration of Independence, but I’ve see too many people try to pursue happiness, and get lost in the frustration, and come to the conclusion that being happy is simply an excecise in futility.
That futility leads to the kinds of sin that the reading from Malachi above talks about. If we are pusuing happiness or pleasure for its own sake, we will never find it. Then we will start to question God, as if somehow He was responsible to make us happy, or at least remove the barriers to happiness.
There is a problem in this that the founding father’s of the United States didn’t see two hundred and fifty years ago. Simply put, happiness should not be the goal, it is not the destination or our reason for living.
Happiness is caused by life being lived in the maner it should be… not by something we do, or something we chase. It happens when we find contentment and peace, a side effect of those two things that cannot be pursued as well.
Luther understood this, as he saw the need to reveal the work of the Holy Spirit. That work, strengthening our ability to trust, to depend on Jesus. It is there, dwelling in the presence of God, the Holy Spirit dwelling in ours. that our lives set apart to walk with Him, that we find everything we need, including joy. The joy that comes when we realize our lives, as broken sa they appear, are treasured by God. A joy that goes far beyond mere happiness, that sustains us in the midst of every thing… even the hardest trauma.
A joy that passes all understanding, for our hearts and minds are maintained in Jesus, secure and safe.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 418.