Happiness

     Christians know that the Biblical concept of happiness is much different from the idea embraced by many folks in this old world. Too often in today’s world happiness is equated with pleasure. We don’t need the Bible to see the problems with such an idea. This is a matter that goes right to the essence of what it means to be a human being. Our existence is not merely, or mostly, a matter of the physical. One of the things we learn as we get a little older is that the most important things in life are spiritual. A person may be physically fit and rich but if nobody loves him he cannot be happy.

     This lesson is implied on every page of the Bible and is stated explicitly in not a few places. One such place is Deuteronomy 33:26-29. The passage is part of Moses’ final blessing on Israel. He has something to say to the tribes and concludes with this: “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the heavens to help you, and in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from behind you, and will say ‘Destroy!’ Then Israel will dwell in safety, the fountain of Jacob alone, in a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew. Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you and you shall tread down their high places” (NKJV).

     Consider as the key verse 29: ‘Happy are you, O Israel!” We remember that the Israel of God is now the church, the body of Christ (see Romans 9:6-8 and 31ff.). We also remember that Romans 15:4 tells us that the things “written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” So it is that we take from these words of Moses some principles that can provide for us true and abiding happiness.

     Spiritual happiness and contentment can surely arise from knowing that we have a relationship with the true and only God (verse 26). “Jeshurun” was another name for Israel and has the essential meaning of ones who stand upright or straight. As long as Israel stood up straight before God and did His will they were blessed by the all powerful God Who “rides the heavens to help you.”

     Real happiness also arises from knowing we God is our refuge (verse 27). We don’t have to live too long to come to know that life is not all sweetness and light. Trouble comes our way sooner or later. Yet we can face distress with hope because we know that God provides the ultimate cover. Not only does He cover us with refuge he undergirds us with the strength of his everlasting arms. A child is comforted by being in the strong arms of his mother or father. We can know this comfort in a spiritual way by faith in God’s comfort, strength and care.

     It is an understatement to say that our world does not trust God like it should. But the simple truth is that God has promised to provide for us. We see this here in verse 28. We may not get all we want, which is a good thing for many of us. But we have been promised blessings. As the Lord said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

     Verse 29 sums up what it means to be truly happy. It comes down to trusting God. Moses said God saves us, is our shield and is our sword. The church is the Israel of God. Therefore, we see that our happiness is not dependent on momentary physical experiences but is instead rooted in faith and trust in God.

     What then is the lesson? For real happiness, trust God. Simply trust God. Let the world have its chariots and horses; we will trust God (Psalm 20:7). What could be a better New Year’s resolution than to begin a diligent effort to trust God more each day?