Thoughts,Songs,Writings,Rants,Encouragements, and Life

Thursday, August 11, 2005

-The Pursuit of Happiness-

1a) The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: delight. 1b) The expression or exhibition of such emotion: gaiety. 2) A state of happiness or felicity: bliss. 3) A source or cause of delight. To experience great pleasure or delight: rejoice
1.) Great pleasure and happiness. 2) A cause of Joy

1) Cheerful, blithe, glee 2) Sing, shout with joy, loud noise, battle cry, to celebrate

1) Joyfulness, gladness, cheer 2) Boasting, where of I may glory, glorying, rejoicing. 3) To gratify, to derive pleasure or advantage from-to have joy. 4) Be well, be glad, Godspeed, greeting, hail, joy, rejoice, farewell.

1) good fortune: prosperity 2a) A state of well-being and contentment: joy 2b) A pleasurable satisfaction 3) Felicity, aptness.

1) Feeling or showing pleasure 2) Willing to do something 3) Fortunate and convenient.

1) To be level, to be right, to go forward, to be honest, prosper, blessed, go, guide, lead, relieve. 2) To be tranquil, secure or successful, prosper, to be in safety.

1) To beatify, pronounce (or esteem) fortunate, call blessed, count happy. 2) Supremely blest, fortunate, well off, happy.

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” –Blaise Pascal (1)

In my recent study of the two words (joy/happiness) and how they relate, translate, what they mean, and where they fit into our daily lives, I discovered this: (especially in the New Testament)

Joy is an in-complete and momentarily satisfying emotional state of cheer, blithe, or glee. Joy also can be the term used for rejoicing with loud shouts, songs, cries, and wails of gladness. I say joy is in-complete, because of what we see in the new testament when Paul writes he often uses joy attached to the phrase “my/ our joy will be complete.” Which makes me wonder if we as humans actually know or experience true and complete joy here on earth, or are we just experiencing little side effects of joy in those moments when our emotions are high and are spirits are full of gladness and cheer.

Happiness to me seems to be a certain fulfillment of being right. A happy person is one who is blessed, fortunate, secure, and successful. Happiness can also be described as satisfaction or complete pleasure. To what extent is this satisfaction or fulfillment? I am sure it is only a small portion or glimpse of our future ‘happiness’ we shall know/understand in heaven.

We as humans all long/desire to be happy or fulfilled. It is what we do. We seek to find where we belong and ultimately our home and creator. It is like we have a homing device embedded in us, seeking to fill the empty space in our hearts longing to be filled. This desire to seek fulfillment or happiness is not a wrong thing, it is a good thing.

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis(2)

“There it is in black and white, and to my mind it is totally compelling: it is not a bad thing to desire our own good. In fact the great problem of human beings is that they are far too easily pleased. They don’t seek pleasure with nearly the resolve and passion that they should. And so they settle for mud pies of appetite instead of infinite delight.

I had never in my whole life heard any Christian, let alone a Christian of Lewis’s stature, say that all of us not only seek (as Pascal said) but also ought to seek our own happiness. Our mistake lies not in the intensity of our desire for happiness, but in the weakness of it.” John Piper (3)

Although in our search for happiness we come across sinful things that we are deceived into believing just might fill the emptiness inside us. This is where our desire and choices can get us into trouble. But I believe God will make himself clear through the seeking to be whole even when we screw up. I believe that in the pursuit of happiness we are also in the pursuit of failing the void in our hearts and souls; we are searching for something to be intimate and close with. Man stumbles and falls, we are deceived by the first thing we come across that gives a flicker of holding a fulfilling intimacy within it. We find it is a fleeting intimacy, a cover up, a fake. We discover that when we do find happiness or pleasure it is in Christ, this is when the intimacy is revealed to us. We spend so much time chasing the shiny objects that pop up around us. We are somehow content with these shiny things that last for a few moments, where as if we searched harder with a deeper passion to fill the need for happiness and intimacy, we would find God and who is and all he has to offer us. But even when we do find God, sometimes we are to content with the little we know of Him, instead of daily pursuing the happiness and pleasure we could have in Him. We prove how content or ill-content we are with the beginning stages of happiness that we first found in Him, when we once again chase the shiny objects of un-fulfilling intimacy. He is always there though, ready to be sough after and ready to fulfill our deepest longings and desires.

“There once was in man a true happiness of which now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.”- Blaise Pascal (4)

I was fourteen in 1997 and seeking to be fulfilled. I had grown up (and was growing up) in a Christian family. My father was (and still is) a worship pastor at a Baptist church I Oregon. At the age of four I had accepted (thought I understood) Christ into my life. I can honestly say that I did not understand the difference between knowing about God and KNOWING God. In ’97 I had completely walked away from God. I was tired of ‘working’ to know God. I knew all the facts, but I wasn’t satisfied. I delved into porn, theft, had possession of drugs and alcohol (easily obtained but never consumed), had girlfriends, had the clothes, was popular, and thought about suicide often. In May of ’97 I got myself arrested and the lie I had been living lay shattered on the kitchen floor. The mask I had been wearing disappeared. The longing to be fulfilled grew even deeper. And the consequences were major for a 14 year old kid.
Later that year my family and short term team from the church went to Central Asia Kazakhstan. Over the course of five weeks I was introduced again to the awesome God I had been seeking. I was embraced with happiness and fulfillment. I had searched so long to be ‘happy’ and the answer was with me and surrounding me all along. I had never known what true happiness was, let alone felt like. But I can honestly say for almost eight years now I have been happy and satisfied. The intimacy I sought after was found, although I do stumble and chase shiny objects, but He always welcomes me back.

Now some of you may argue with the term happiness used that way. But I can’t and don’t agree with you about putting Joy in those blanks above. From my study of scripture, dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew definitions I maintain that happiness is the right word to use. I will allow you to decide for yourself.

“God wills that we should push into His presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held; it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day.” A.W. Tozer (5)

God wants us to be happy and he created us for that purpose. We should daily seek to intensify our desire to fill the emptiness with ‘whatever provides the most enduring satisfaction.

Some of you literally just gasped out loud at that last statement. This is a new thought or just plain absurd to you. It may be the use of ‘whatever’, but I believe we are finding just what that ‘whatever’ really is. Would you agree with this statement by Louie Giglio? “We are created to bring pleasure and honor to the God who created us.”(6) Ah, now that’s more like it, but my question is, how do WE as believers do this, and daily on top of that? The reason we are here on earth is to give Glory to God. We are created to worship Him and be happy in Him with all that we are. Every breath should be an exhale of pleasure that reflects the awe and wonder and love of who God really is. Perhaps John Piper can help with this statement: “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” (7) I agree with this completely. The only way we can glorify God is by truly being happy or satisfied in Him. I honestly believe that in our happiness we begin to reflect God as well as know God. The pursuit of happiness leads us straight to God, meaning in the pursuit of God we seek happiness or fulfillment, or satisfaction. To me these three words are very similar in meaning.

This enduring, fulfilling, and completely satisfying happiness I have mentioned is found only in God. He is where we are done seeking and we begin to truly worship and glorify our creator and father.

“The deepest desire of our hearts is for union with God. From the first moment of our existence our most powerful yearning is to fulfill the original purpose of our lives-‘to see Him more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly.’ We are made for God, and nothing less will really satisfy us.”
-Bennan Manning (8)

I believe that what Manning is getting at here is Happininess. It is what we seek. And happiness is what we will continue to seek, until we find it in Christ. Pslam 42:1-2 NLT “As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you Oh God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come stand before Him?” We are all thirsty and need God to quench our thirst. We all seek ‘living water’ which can only be found in Christ. Are we ready to thirst no more? Are we ready to share this ‘living water’?

This is the completion of the puzzle. The happiness we seek for, which is in Christ can only be complete when it is shared with others. To me this sounds a lot like Paul talking about the completion of Joy in the New Testament. Are search for happiness ends in Christ. It does not begin another search, but it does command us, that in order to be fully happy and satisfied, we must share this happiness with those around us. Like the famous Charlie Hall lyric: “All of life comes down to just one thing, that’s to know you oh Jesus and make you known.” There it is right there in the simple line of the song. We all seek happiness, which leads us to finding God and truly knowing Him, but once we have found Him our job is to Glorify and worship Him by making Him known to the world. So that all of those seeking complete happiness and fulfillment can find it in Christ.

Finally the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of worship. “We as worshipers are created to bring pleasure and honor to the God who created us.” –Giglio. The only way we can bring pleasure to God is by first finding pleasure or satisfaction in our own lives. And as have read already, the way to do that is in Christ alone. Christ is our complete happiness and pleasure. And when we are full of pleasure in Christ, that’s when Christ is most honored and glorified.
The chief end of man is to glorify God
By (not and)
Enjoying him forever.
(Without satisfaction in Christ, we cannot begin to worship or glorify God.)

Can there be anymore truth than that? I don’t think so. I am convinced I was created to seek happiness. This is found only in the God and father that I find complete pleasure and satisfaction in. the God and Father that I long to Glorify and worship all the days of my life.

What about you, what do you think???


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