“Joy is the feeling that arises from being happy.”
— Matthew Jacoby
HAPPINESS, according to this artist and scholar on the Psalter, is simpler and more like the world’s image of it than we suppose. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – a seemingly complex, but really an abundantly simple God – wants us to be happy. But we arrive at happiness having taken a slightly longer route. We arrive having mastered an understanding of life that leaves us balanced and replete with perspective.
Happiness is no dirty word. We just have to understand it in context.
God wants us to be happy, but not at his expense. And that’s crucial. Happiness finds its basis and purpose in God. To see it from such a vantage point we can’t help know the general direction to head in for getting there.
Not Guilt, But Acknowledgement
Thanksgiving is a time we take stock of the truths in our lives that intuit thankfulness – and many are those. The simple things, as we take stock, cause us to swell from within in being happy. God is good. God is a thoroughly good God. Never was there a truer statement, but there are a million and more statements just as true.
Happiness – the need of it – is explained in this: it serves no purpose to resist happiness, as if it were some entirely selfish endeavour. Yet, equally, it serves no purpose to chase it in its own right.
Happiness is to be received, as a gift from God, not out of guilt, but out of acknowledgement – such a feeling is the elicitation of joy and joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
When we acknowledge the truths of our lives, even the sad truths, not judging or condemning these truths by complaint, we stand to realise the blessing God has destined our way from the beginning.
Guilt for the experience of happiness is unwarranted. As if we should ever preside over God in such a way. Such a thing is an abomination, but by feeling guilty, and by learning how inappropriate it is, we don’t want to elicit guilt because we feel guilty when we know we shouldn’t be feeling guilty! That just makes something simple very complex – it’s not God’s will.
God wants us to be happy, but not at his expense. And that’s crucial. Happiness finds its basis and purpose in God. Happiness is to be received, as a gift from God, not out of guilt, but out of acknowledgement – such a feeling is the elicitation of joy and joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.