Posted on January 16, 2010 - by Jamie Wamsley
“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils.” – Baltasar Gracian
Last night, my wife and I spent the evening with a group of friends, celebrating a birthday.
Though currently trapped in the frozen fields of northern Illinois, the “birthday boy” hails from the South. For the occasion, his wife made an original Southern favorite of his, Spicy Seafood Gumbo – and it was delicious. (Bastion of self-discipline that I am, I only had three bowls)
You top off a dinner like that with a little piece (or two) of strawberry cake, some fun conversation and games – and we all had a pretty fun night together.
It was one of those moments where, just for a fleeting second, you catch yourself thinking, “Man, life is really good.”
It was a nice thought – but it was also a bit paradoxically sad.
Why do those moments sometimes seem too few and far between? Am I missing something? Shouldn’t there be a whole lot more of those?
As I was pondering that, there were a couple of verses from the Bible that came to mind – both seemed to capture the mood of the evening for me.
The first is found in the book of Ecclesiastes (written by the ancient King Solomon), and it says, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3.12-13)
And the second passage, found in the New Testament, simply says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6.6)
In our eternal quest for happiness (and to be honest, I’ve never met a person that I didn’t believe was searching for genuine happiness and fulfillment), the Bible points us in a unique direction. There is a persistent idea found throughout Scripture that a life lived both for God and accompanied by God – as the means of being able to embrace whatever circumstances come our way – is the only path to a deep satisfaction and lasting joy.
There are moments – brief moments like last night – where I experience and understand this reality; that all my ambitions, all my desires, all that I will ever dream and attain will never yield me an ounce of additional happiness beyond what I can experience with God right now in the present moment under my current circumstances.
That is a truth that is embarrassingly difficult for me to hold on to – the spiritual equivalent of a trying to hold on to a greased watermelon in the deep end of a swimming pool – that is (in case you’ve never tried it), really hard. I am honestly not sure why this is so difficult.
Do you experience happiness – joy – consistently? If so, how do you do that? What’s the trick? If not, why not? What do you think the real problem is?
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