WHAT IF THE HAPPINESS WE ARE HUSTLING AFTER CAN NEVER BE CAUGHT?
What if created things were never meant to make us happy in the way we desire to experience happiness?
I believe the ancient Jewish people knew the secret to happiness. Marinate on the words to these two songs they would sing to God and to each other as a reminder of where happiness is found:
Happy are the people who know the joyful shout; LORD, they walk in the light from your face. They rejoice in your name all day long, and they are exalted by your righteousness. (Ps. 89:15–16)
You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. (Ps. 16:11)
What if happiness is found by gazing into the face of God in Jesus Christ, and walking in his path of light, life, and righteousness?
The Happiest Man That Ever Lived
Jesus of Nazareth was the happiest person who ever lived. He is the ultimate portrait of the good life. He is the prototype of what humanity was meant to be. The first Adam cursed humanity by his disobedience in the garden of Eden; Jesus, the last Adam, reversed the curse through his obedience. The first Adam brought us death; the last Adam brought us back to life.
No matter the situation, whether feeding five thousand men or driving corrupt people out of the temple or hanging in agony on a Roman cross, Jesus had transcendent happiness that gave him confidence and purpose. His happiness rooted him in something deeper, better, and more beautiful than his circumstances. Jesus’ circumstances were not the cause of his happiness, nor did they add or subtract from his happiness; they were the window through which he expressed his happiness. His happiness was a different kind of joy that seemed to come from a realm beyond ours. Here’s how the author of Hebrews described it:
For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)
The word translated joy is the Greek word chará, and it means a state of gladness or happiness. How can a person be happy after being stripped naked in public, tied over a wooden beam, and flogged with a flagrum? The flagrum was comprised of leather straps with sharp pieces of bone and metal embedded at the end of the leather straps. It would grip into the victim’s body and rip the flesh. How could Jesus be in a state of gladness as a hurricane of torture engulfed him at every level of his being?
By the time Jesus was on earth, the Romans had perfected the art of death by crucifixion. The cross is one of the most heinous ways ever invented for a man to die. It was brutal, painful, and slow. It was a symbol of domination and devastation. Dying by the cross was so cruel that neither a Roman citizen nor a woman could be crucified. Yet, Jesus was able to have joy during his public execution. How? Jesus knew the secret to happiness. Jesus knew that his happiness had to be entrenched in something that was beyond this world but that gave him the grace to live here.
Jesus is able to have this happiness because he is the true version of humanity. Salvation is the restoration of our humanity, and along with our humanness being reestablished in Christ, we gain the capacity to experience real happiness, the God-kind-of-happiness that is reserved for citizens of his kingdom.
The happiness of Jesus is available to us.
Gray, Derwin. 2020. The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches about Finding True Happiness. Nashville, TN: B&H Books.