Sabbath Thought - Are You Happy?
"Most people would rather be certain they're miserable, than risk being happy." - Robert Newton Anthony, American writer, author
Are you happy? For far too many people, happiness is elusive or non-existent in their life. This is not just a modern phenomenon. In the early 1770's the North American colonies were seeing political viewpoints divide the people. On one side there were those who were loyal to the King of England and gave him great deference in how he governed this new land. On the other side were those who believed the King and his agents had gone too far in controlling their lives. They were citizens of the British Empire but taxed for things they didn't support and for a government they had no say in.
Both sides were part of an argument between brothers - Ephraim and Manasseh. They had to separate because of the future God had in store for each of them, but they chose to separate through war. As the colonists came to terms with their decision to revolt from the King, they also had to determine how they would govern themselves. The nations of Europe all had kings and queens ruling them, and the colonists certainly didn't want that form of government. The men who were selected to represent each colony were very well educated, and they saw in history a thread of democracy that they wanted to emulate - a people ruled by the consent of the people. Ironically, they realized that the weakness of a democracy is that eventually the governed realize that they can vote for themselves all manner of benefits from the public treasury. At which point democracy begins its slide into mob rule.
Nonetheless, the founders of this nation wanted each citizen to be the determiner of their own fate. In the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence it reads thus: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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."
Do we have an unalienable right from God to pursue happiness? There is much pain and suffering in the world around us. There is also deep fear of the future and a great deal of anger. It can be very hard to find and have joy. And yet, of everyone alive at this time in mankind's history, God's people should be a people filled with joy! We know why there is suffering in this life, and we know it can be used by God for our benefit. We have no need of anger because we have the Truth of God. We have every reason to have great joy!
God has given us a calling beyond anything we could dream up. Beyond the pain, suffering, fear, or anger of this world, we have joy in knowing God's plan of salvation! We have the Sabbath day to remember, meditate on, and glorify God for and with that joy! The Sabbath pictures the "rest" God desires for all mankind to enter - the rest of being in His family (Hebrews 4).
Jesus understood and had this joy. He came as a man and died for mankind's sins - and He did that with joy (Hebrews 12:2) knowing what His actions would make possible. We should follow His example in the trials and suffering we have in this life (1 Peter 4:13). We are to "rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 4:4) as the apostle Paul encouraged. We get to choose every day whether or not to be happy and no one can take that away from us.
So rejoice in this Sabbath day! This is the day God has created for mankind (Psalm 118:24). Meditate on the things of God (Philippians 4:8-9), and be content with what God gives us (v.11-13) because we can fulfill our calling with Christ strengthening us. God is offering us everything (v.18). What joy we can have!
I wish you a joyful and happy Sabbath,
15 January, 2021