EULESS, Texas (BP)–We are in a special time in our nation. Americans have united together under the Stars and Stripes and sought to find happiness in the grand old flag. Old-fashioned patriotism is very much in vogue.
But when we think about this patriotism, do we as Christians find our personal happiness in America? We all want to be happy, of course, and patriotism is certainly a good thing. An elevated sense of patriotism makes us elated and enthused about the land in which we live. But when we get down to the “nitty-gritty” of day-to-day living, do patriotism, position, prestige and power lead us on a path to happiness?
The Bible says no. When we look at the words of the Psalmist, who wrote well over 1,500 years ago, we discover two truths: We all are on a search for happiness and God gives us the secret of happiness. Psalm 33:10-12 states: “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever; the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” The word translated “blessed” can be translated “happy.” So, the psalmist notes, a nation can know happiness. It is a possibility.
A nation can experience true happiness, however, only when it discovers the secret to happiness. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know the secret.
For the most part, I believe that Americans walk down two paths in our search for happiness. One path is entertainment and the other path is money. Entertainment brings an escape from reality, thus providing temporary feelings of happiness. Money brings a perceived improvement to our reality: We move up the social ladder, so to speak.
But, in spite of these paths that many of us take, have you heard of any people on their deathbeds saying, “I wish I would have seen more movies,” or that they had been to more sporting events, worked on their car some more or watched more TV? Of course not! And the old adage, “You can’t take it with you,” is a reality. Moreover, research led by the London School of Economics explored the link between personal spending power and the perceived quality of life – and conclusively proven that money can buy everything but happiness. It’s true!
So if we can’t count on entertainment to bring us happiness, and if we can’t count on money to bring us happiness, then what brings us happiness in life?
I typed in a word search on a popular search engine. I typed in “Secret to Happiness.” More than 603,000 results came up from that one search, but the Bible has told us once and for all the secret to happiness. In the words of the psalmist: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” There is the secret. We find happiness in life when we make God the true Lord in our lives.
What does that really mean? Well, for ancient Israel in the Psalms, it meant choosing to live for Him, choosing to serve Him, choosing to sacrifice for Him and choosing to obey Him. For Christians, it means a life of sacrifice, selflessness, service and obedience. This is a paradox: A person finds happiness in giving his/her life to God. A nation finds happiness when its people live for the Lord.
I pray today for my family and myself: God help me to be one of those godly people who bows in Your presence and opens Your Word. Then Lord, give me grace to rise from my knees and live each day to Your honor.
When we make the Lord our God in life, we will discover a blessed life and promote a happy life for our family, our friends and our nation. Happiness — blessedness — begins and ends with God.
Thomas is pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas; visit www.discoverfirst.org for more resources.