I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live (Ecclesiastes 3:12).
Health is important. Wealth is desirable. So is love. People want these things. But most of all, people want to be happy.
A healthy, wealthy, loved person who is not also happy will not appreciate or much enjoy the otherwise good things in life. To say he should, will not change how he feels.
His disappointment with life will increase if he had been counting on these external things to bring happiness. How many have thought, “If only I was rich, I would have no problems.”?
But, of course, wealth does not mean a person will not get sick or be unloved or have other problems. To have what others desire but cannot have—and still find no happiness—is depressing. Statistics show that. Including suicide statistics.
The writer of the book Ecclesiastes is an example. He had it all, surely more than most. But there was a time in his life when he was not at all happy. In those days, he labeled everything in his life as worthless: “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”
His response to that healthy, wealthy, unhappy life? “So I hated life…”
We would ask King Solomon, “Why were you not happy?”
He may have answered: “I was miserable because I was trying to live without God instead of living for God.”
He learned that without God in his life, life is meaningless.
In time, he came to realize that God wants to bring meaning into lives. He went on to write of God: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…”
Though the Mighty God has been rejected, or replaced, or ignored, he has not turned away from mankind in disgust.
He has kept on showering his blessings upon people to give them a taste of happiness.
The Apostle Paul once told a crowd to turn from their worthless ways to the living God. He explained: “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).
So, to an extent, it is true: wealth and good times can bring happiness. But not for long. Not forever.
They are undeserved gifts from God. They are evidence of his existence and proof of his love.
Yet, so often, they are sought out as if they were of our own making or deserving. They are grabbed without a thank-you and used without a conscience. They are treated as if this is what life is all about.
We, humans, are so short-sighted. We are dazzled by what glitters and impressed by what excites our senses. We are willing to settle for feeling good for a little while—all the while we are dying.
We don’t see or don’t care, that our Creator sacrificed his Son for us. We avert our eyes from the warning scene of awaiting dungeons of darkness. We block his calls.
Until, in his mercy, he opens our eyes to see our desperate need and opens our hearts to accept his love. Until we realize that our sin is forgiven, and all is well. Until we know that our future is bought and paid for by the one called Jesus.
Then, we can be happy.
We pray: Lord of the nations and Savior of souls, keep our eyes fixed upon You so that we do not trade in our eternal salvation for a few moments of fun that fades. We sometimes sing, “Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be His own.” Keep us ever among those happy people. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military