What does it mean to live a happy life? To address this question, the article defines what true happiness is.

Source: The Banner of Truth (NRC), 1987. 2 pages.

Are You Happy?

I am confronting you here with a most personal question, a question which pertains to the most fundamental desire of every human being. So fundamental is this desire for happiness that the Founding Fathers of the United States designated the opportunity to pursue happiness as one of the unalienable rights of every human being. I think we can categorically state that every human being, in whatever he engages in, ultimately pursues the elusive goal of genuine happiness and fulfilment.

Happiness from a human perspective🔗

If, however, we were to take a poll, and ask people to complete the sentence, "Happiness is…," rather than one, we would get a large variety of responses. Some of the responses of western man would be, Are You Happy?"Happiness is … being physically attractive, being financially independent, owning a luxurious home, enjoying exotic vacations, being socially prominent," etc. You will have to agree with me, however, that in spite of man's vigorous pursuit and apparent enjoyment of some or all of the above, unhappiness abounds everywhere, which becomes tangibly evident in broken homes, drug-abuse, alcoholism, suicide, etc. Obviously, man's relentless pursuit of happiness does not yield true happiness after all; on the contrary, man has never been more lonely, disillusioned, and miserable than in our "progressive" twentieth century. What then is the reason why happiness appears to be so elusive? Why is it that men or women who are intellectually and/or professionally prominent, who enjoy every luxury and convenience our society offers, who are recognized for the beauty of their physical appearance, are nevertheless so frequently unhappy people?

The significant meaning of the word "happiness"🔗

I believe I can best answer this question by briefly considering the origin and meaning of the word "happiness." The word "happiness" is derived from the English word "hap," which refers to an occurrence due to circumstances beyond one's control, or to state it simply, something which occurs by chance. From a human perspective, each day is a sequence of "haps" or "happenings" (a derivative of hap), or, to state it differently, each day things "happen" to me. If these happenings coincide with my wishes and desires I will be "happy," but if the "haps" of the day go contrary to my plans and desires, I wish they would "unhappen" and therefore I am "unhappy." Therefore human happiness is entirely dependent on the happenings or haps of the day, as well as the manner in which I perceive and interpret them. I may be happy one day with my physical appearance and unhappy the next day, when I discover that due to age my physical attractiveness is waning I may be happy one day with my luxurious home and unhappy the next day due to a destructive fire. In other words, human happiness is a very fickle, transitory condition, which is entirely governed by daily circumstances and a person's state of mind. Therefore, as long as our happiness is still entirely dependent on happenings, we will never know what true happiness really is.

True happiness defined🔗

Since you do not know what may happen to you on a given day, and since the events of your life may not qualify as happy events in the opinion of our godless society, how can true and lasting happiness be your portion? Scripture gives us a very clear answer to this question!Are You Happy?

In Psalm 146:5 we read, "Happy is he (or she) that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God." This text makes it very clear that true happiness can only be experienced when our life is not governed by circumstances, but instead is focused on the unchangeable God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. This is the reason why Adam was truly a happy man before he fell. In his sinless state, there were no negative happen­ings, but all the happenings of the day directed him to God, whom he loved with his entire being, and this made him unspeakably happy. As fallen creatures, however, our life is no longer focussed on God, but on our sinful selves, and the happenings of a sinful world, which results in unhappiness. Therefore, true happiness for man is only to be found in God Himself, as is so profoundly stated in Psalm 144:15, "Happy is that people whose God is the LORD," or as expressed in Psalm 146, "Whose hope is in the LORD his God!"

My dear young friend, do you have the God of Jacob for your help, and is this God also your God? Unless that is the case, any happiness you may think to possess is only imaginary happiness, which may disappear as a soap bubble. Only when God is your portion in Jesus Christ, can you truly be happy, in spite of the often bewildering and trying happenings of the day. Are You Happy?This is the reason why Paul and Silas were so happy in a dungeon with their feet in stocks. They had the God of Jacob for their help and their hope was in the LORD their God. The happenings of the day should have made them unhappy, but since their hope was in God, they were happy in spite of what had happened.

My friend, is the God of Jacob your God? If not, then precisely because He is the God of Jacob there is hope also for you. Jacob by nature was a deceiver, a sinner, and yet God calls Himself the God of this man! Why? Only because of Jacob's great Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, God is the God of sin­ners, and for His sake, the God of Jacob can also be your God. How happy are you if the God of Jacob is your God, for what has happened in your life for the sake of Jesus Christ can never "unhappen" again! To you it applies what Moses exclaimed in holy ecstasy in Deut. 33:29, "Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee?" My dear friend, are you such a happy one?

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