I recently heard a preacher comment, “Most of us wake up on a pursuit to happiness. What we really should be waking up to is a pursuit of truth.”
That really struck me. Psalm 51:6 states that God “desires truth in the inward parts.” The literal translation of “inward parts” is “kidneys.” Our modern minds don’t think of kidneys as honest or dishonest, but the ancient Hebrews often compared the spirit of a human being to the internal organs – the gut, if you will. God loves to see truth on the altar of our hearts and wisdom in the cloister of our minds. Of course, the world tries to nudge out truth with self-concern.
We chase after material happiness, but Jesus said that the quality of life “does not consist in the abundance of…possessions” (Luke 12:15). A businessman recently bought a photograph of a potato for $1.6 million – after he had a few glasses of wine. I can’t help but think that after he soberly assesses that framed spud on his wall for a few months, he would’ve been happier to invest that sum in a soul-stirring cause.
We hold on to the hope that a certain person will make us happy when, in reality, people make poor gods. Kids and companions, on their best days, can disappoint you.
We think that a certain politician will bring us happiness, but the Bible warns us to “not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Psalm 146:3). Hope we can remember that the next time we are tempted to exalt our candidate to unrealistic heights.
We bank our happiness on a dizzying array of people, things and experiences, yet all of these can be taken away in a flash, as they were with Job.
True happiness is blessedness, the state of knowing that God provides our contentment and grants us infinite worth. It is, in the words of Robert Ellsberg in The Saints’ Guide to Happiness, learning lessons on “letting go…of sitting still, and on learning to love — the final goal of all spiritual practice.”
Are you questing after happiness? Then you probably won’t find it. For happiness is not something we strive after; it is Someone whose truth can set us free.