Wednesday, April 6, 2011

TheoLOLogy: Happiness

Picture by: mikesgirl
Lol by: furrgetmenot

Our culture tells us that happiness is the goal for which we must strive and that pleasure is the means to being happy. But pleasure is fleeting and short-lived - so if pleasure is how we measure happiness then we must continue to seek out new sources of pleasure to stay happy.

I think that happiness is more than just pleasure - it is a state of well-being and contentment.

Paul has this to say in his letter to the Philippians: (4:11b-13)
"for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Paul writes that he "can do all things through him who strengthens me." Wherever we find ourselves - we know that we can endure all things through the one who strengthens us - God. And while I don't agree with the "prosperity gospel" that claims that God wants us all to be rich, I do think that God wants us all to be happy.

I believe God wants us to be happy because of Scripture passages like Ecclesiastes 3:12-13:

"I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil." 

Passages that tell of God's love for us also convince me that God wants the best for us. This includes the well-known John 3:16-17:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."

There are of course certain things that we need - basic necessities, healthy relationships with other people and God. But we don't need to be the very best or the one with the most in order to be happy. As Sheryl Crow once sang - "It's not having what you want, It's wanting what you've got" (Soak Up the Sun). 

Being satisfied with who we are, what we have, and where we are is the means to a happiness that is not fleeting and short-lived but sustainable. Why limit happiness to an hour?