by Rosie Adle
In the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers listed inalienable rights, one of which was the pursuit of happiness. They couldn’t guarantee actual happiness, but they aimed to protect the right to pursue it. And do we ever!
You’ve probably heard someone say, “I deserve happiness.” That’s a common line of thinking. Sheryl would crow at us, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.” As citizens of the United States of America, happiness has been our bread and butter since way back, yet the rates of depression and suicide show that we are sadly facing a shortage of this bread.
Founding fathers aside, let’s consider what our heavenly Father would have for us.
Christ taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This means everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, as Martin Luther explained. Does that include happiness? Hmmm …
We may pursue happiness within the reasonable curbs of the Law, but sometimes we are dished up a portion of bread that makes us unhappy. Scripture says there are times when we are given the bread of adversity and the water of affliction.
In times of unhappiness, we might grab at a happiness that is not meant for us. This is coveting. We might justify our sin by saying God wants us to be happy. This is idolatry. Sin is our bread and butter.
What might we say, then, in the face of unhappiness?
First, we are loved. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Jesus loves me. He also loves you.
Second, we are humble. The Lord is with us, not because we deserve happiness, but because He is merciful and gracious to us, poor, miserable sinners.
Third, we are grateful. We thank God for the gifts of pastors, deaconesses, counselors, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, friends, and others to help us when our unhappiness is unbearably deep and wide. Mental wellness is needed for the support of the body, and the Lord provides it through “good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”
Fourth, we are hopeful. We pray for happiness, crying out in the same breath, “deliver us from evil.” We long for the place that the Lord is preparing for us, where the feast will be one of lasting joy. The former things — the adversarial bread and afflicted water of this unhappy world — will have passed away. Those things are here for a time, but not for eternity. Come, Lord Jesus …