The (Real) Pursuit of Happiness

Came across this today and it reminded me that true happiness is not what we’re told it is:

Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD. Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways. You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances. I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments. I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes. With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth. I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Deal bountifully with your servant, so that I may live and observe your word. Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I live as an alien in the land; do not hide your commandments from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times. You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments; take away from me their scorn and contempt, for I have kept your decrees. Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your decrees are my delight, they are my counselors.  (Ps 119:1-24 NRSV).

Too often the narratives of our world say that the accumulation of things, the pursuit of our own peace-of-mind, our own pleasures (often at the expense of others), the biggest and strongest, the most powerful, the wealthiest, the smartest, the prettiest, or those who have the most love, friends, and sex are those who will truly find happiness. Not so says the Psalmist, happiness does not belong to any of those things. Real happiness can only be found by rejecting the world’s version of happiness, and instead delighting in God’s law: Love God with your whole heart, body soul and strength and love the Other.

Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.