So, let’s start with a simple yet daunting question that someone will inevitably ask us anyway: Are you happy? Not in a I’m-entertained-and-enjoying-this-fleeting-moment sort of way, but in a deeper way, a long-lasting way. Are you fulfilled, content with your life’s meaning? Is your soul full and warm and restful, knowing perfectly well that someday you are going to die?
This past week we heard from the Book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter three the author writes, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil--this is the gift of God” (3:12). When I read that I find myself asking, what does it mean to be happy?
Thomas Jefferson famously wrote about our inherent right to the pursuit of happiness. But can happiness be found by running after it? Or does genuine, lasting happiness come from something a little different? One theologian gives the following advice: “God made us: invented us as a person invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Godself. God Godself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Godself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
We are indeed created to be happy. And I think, perhaps, that true happiness comes from satiating the spiritual hunger that only God can fill. There is a hole in our hearts the size of the Creator, and only the Creator, the God who is unconditional, unmerited Love, can fill it. If we try to fill the hole our hearts with something else, happiness cannot find us. So let’s love God and each other, and wonder at the happiness that follows.