I was sitting in a doctors waiting room a while back and the TV was on. It seems that TVs have to be on everywhere. We’ve lost the ability to sit quietly with our own thought – but that is a topic for another time. This particular TV was tuned to one of the afternoon soap operas. Thankfully the sound was turned down. I’ve never watched one of these stories, or know what the plot is, but what struck me just from the images on the screen, no one was happy. Everyone seemed to be in some kind of argument or serious discussion. Now I shift to a different media, internet features on my browser. Last week one was reviewing the fall line on the New York fashion runways. Not one model had any smile on their face. It seems that nothing the beautiful people on TV, or anything in the high end world of fashion, leads to real happiness. Many years ago King Solomon wrote, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, …”(Proverbs 15:13) Happiness is not found by latest expensive clothes, or going with the right crowd. It is in a heart that is at peace with God, and the knowledge that He is the ultimate strength and joy of life.
I admit I know nothing about fashion. I thumbed through a fashion magazine yesterday, but certain impressions seem fairly obvious. I will never understand why people pay lots of money to by a pair of faded jeens that already come with ripped knees and torn cuffs. Fashion? But more interesting were the several dozen models, men and women, in expensive clothes in sophisticated settings. Not one of them had a smile on their face. Smug, yes. Look at me, this is what you need to stand out, yes. But certainly not happy. When God created mankind He placed him in the midst of a garden with all the good thing one could want. Especially a perfect and open relationship with one another, and with their God. That was the key to real happiness. But somehow we wanted more, and chose to rebel from our Lord. We may think we have gained a lot of things, but true happiness was not among them. It is time to consider again from where our source of real happiness comes.
I read an article a few days ago about modern family structures. Today only 20% of U.S. children are raised in a two parent family compared to 60% in the 1950s. There are single parent families, multi-generational families, same gender families, and families with a variety of people related and unrelated. The single criterion that measured the success of each of the six families highlighted in the article was happiness. Were they happy and able to get along. I am not condemning all of these arrangements. Sometimes they are necessary and beneficial for people, but what I did notice is that personal happiness has become the standard for people’s lives. “Our inalienable right to Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as our Declaration of Independence puts it. Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, but what happened to the desire to know God and wanting to live lives that honor and please our Father? That, after all, is why we were created. It is also where our greatest satisfaction and joy will be found.
Last week I commented on the value of the Psalms, and suggested you try to write your own. I still think it’s a good exercise in expressing the thought of your heart to the Lord. There seems to be a modern internet counterpart to writing psalms. It the blog. People can get a free web site, and write about whatever is on their minds. The vast majority certainly has nothing to do with the Lord. One comment I ran across seems to express the tone of many. “The important things is that it’s your life and as long as you are happy, then that’s all that matters.” There is nothing wrong with personal happiness. We all desire it, but it’s not the reality of much of life in this world. People seek it by all manner of diversions, most of which are short lived. God wants us happy as well, but happiness is not the goal of life. No earthly life will be happy throughout its whole sojourn. It is why we are called to a life of peace, joy (different from happiness), and strength in a relationship with Christ, first and above all. The happiness we have is a byproduct of that relationship, and not something we try to manufacture by many diversions.