Everyone wants to be happy, and I fit in with that sentiment.
As I counsel with young couples preparing to be married, it is clear that they all want happiness.
What makes you happy, and how do we get it? Those are questions we all want answered.
Early yesterday morning, I read a devotional based in Nehemiah 8. The context of this chapter is the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem under the direction of Nehemiah. The whole book is a stirring account of hard work and the good hand of God on His people. In 52 days, the people rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem. As they concluded this massive project, Nehemiah called the people together to hear the Word of the Lord read by Ezra the scribe and priest.
As the people heard the message for a long period of time (from early morning until noon), a sense of their sinfulness came over the people. They recognized their sin. They also wept because they had the privilege to hear the Word of the Lord.
Then Nehemiah gave instructions to the people which seem out of place. He told them to rejoice, eat and drink, and share with others, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because your strength comes from rejoicing in the Lord” (Nehemiah 8:10).
It was a holy day, but it was a happy day. Holiness and happiness are not opposites or mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand.
I think one reason why we find happiness so elusive is because we don’t see the connection between living holy lives before God and the resultant happiness we experience. We futilely seek happiness, but as the country song goes, we are “looking for love in all the wrong places.” We do the same with happiness. We think happiness is in things and experiences when it actually comes from an intimate and active relationship with the Lord.
It is our rejoicing in the Lord that gives us life and strength.
This is certainly my experience. As I spend time with God–both in Scripture and in prayer–I feel that I have whatever I need to face the day. Rejoicing in the presence of the Lord gives me strength. That is exactly what Nehemiah said to the people of Jerusalem–“the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
What makes you happy? Have you tried repentance, that is, renouncing your sin and seeking God? Repentance is hard, but it is sweet. It brings a profound sense of joy and happiness.
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