The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is a gift from God to have life, to be free, and to be able to pursue happiness. Most of us do not need to give much thought to the saving of our lives. Living in America has secured most of our liberties, so most of us don’t worry about losing them. No, most of us spend our time with the third, which is the pursuit of happiness.
It is human to pursue happiness. The pursuit of happiness is what has started wars, launched expeditions, led to innovation in technology, and is one of the reasons people pursue money. We all want to be happy, which tells us that of all our emotions, happiness brings us the most pleasure. The Bible has quite a bit to tell us about happiness, too. It says in Psalm 144:15 “happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.” Jesus says in John 13:17 “If ye know these [commands], happy are ye if ye do them.” God even says in Job 5:17: “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth.”
When we look at happiness, we see that it is an emotion we feel when we are content or when we are most satisfied. But the question comes: What should satisfy us? There are almost as many different answers as there are people on the earth. Some answer that drugs or alcohol are the way to happiness, and pursue that. Some find immense happiness in sports or entertainment. Some find their happiness in being with family or doing good. All of these things put happiness in a category where they are conditional on circumstances, but as Job 5:17 says, we can have happiness even when we are being corrected by God. Philippians 4:4 says: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” Paul even said in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Paul found happiness and joy, not in his circumstances, because his circumstances were quite bad. He was able to look beyond the circumstances to the One who was holding him up, and he was content with the work of God in his life. He found pleasure in knowing that God was taking what was happening to work greater things than he could immediately see.
This is the thing that many need to know about happiness but that few understand. We were made by God, and so were made to be satisfied only in God. Psalm 16:11 says: “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” However, we try to find joy in other places. Adam and Eve sought pleasure in the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Israelites sought happiness in idols. Ananias and Sapphira sought joy in being religious and keeping their money. When we seek that which his not God for happiness, it will always let us down, and can even destroy us. Our plight is to seek happiness in God. It is not seeking happiness through God, as if we only love God for what He can give us or do for us. It is a seeking happiness in His Will, and submitting ourselves to Him. This is where the greatest joy is found, and where we can fully exercise our emotion of happiness.