Happiness May Be Overrated

When my wife and I were first married, we'd periodically ask each other the following question:

Are you happy?

Our hope was to keep each other honest about the state of the union in our house and to try and head off any oncoming issues lurking behind life's next bend. It was beneficial to us.

The United States Constitution includes, as an inalienable right of every person and given by their Creator, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." We have a culture set up for that pursuit, at least philosophically, and much of life is hinged into answering in the affirmative this question:

Are you happy?

As a follower of Christ, you may be shocked to learn that no where in the Scriptures does God do any maintenance or checking up on people's happiness. Not once. In fact, the word best translated as "happy" in the New Testament is makarios which is also translated "blessed." It is the core of Jesus' "beatitudes" (see Matthew 5 and Luke 6-7) and being "happy" usually accompanies a feeling or emotion we would see as completely opposite of happiness.

Blessed are the poor. Blessed are those who mourn. Not exactly greeting card material.

Apparently God has a different vision of happiness, which He does, and it runs counter to what we've been chasing all of our days.

The more counseling and direction I do in my life, the more I'm seeing the consequences of happiness run buck-wild in our lives. Let me say up front, I'm not against happiness. I simply believe happiness, and the pursuit of happiness, makes us blind to the very thing that gives our lives richness and meaning regardless of what happens to us.

This discussion is so important and so complex that I'm going to dedicate this week's blog to it. Starting tomorrow, I want to unpack what God is doing and how something beyond happiness lies just over the horizon for all of us. Will you join me?