Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad. Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth. Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.
—Matthew 5:3-6 (CEB)
It’s funny that I can’t think of happiness without thinking of the times in my life when I have struggled.
I was in the midst of great pain when someone said to me that the deeper my sorrow, the greater my joy would be — that to feel the happiness, I would have to feel the despair.
I know, now, that this was one of those well-meaning pieces of advice meant to make me feel better. And it did help me find a measure of comfort when I was feeling especially low. I would think, “Wow! One of these days I’m going to feel really happy.”
God doesn’t create the pain we experience, especially not as a measuring stick to show us how much happiness we’ll have when the hard times go away. But I do think that God created us with great capacity for joy. We are created for rejoicing — about the spark of Divine Love that lives in us, about special relationships, about the delight of creation. God delights in our delight, smiles at our joy, laughs with us in our pleasure.
Joy’s presence in the world doesn’t depend on our feelings. Joy surrounds; we simply open our eyes and heart to God’s presence. Remember God. Remember God’s presence and gifts. Rejoice in God’s action in the world.
— Beth A. Richardson
The Uncluttered Heart
The themes that we find in our seeking of happiness are practices and habits that we have addressed regularly. Gratitude, staying in the present, practicing joy as a spiritual discipline rather than a feeling, opening our hearts to God’s heart within us — these are all ways that we practice the spiritual discipline, the spiritual gift of happiness.
I’m filled with happiness when I see the beauty of the sky as the sun comes up or watch the emerging of the bloom on a rose bush. I’m joyful when I sit in the quiet of the evening to reflect on the day, to write a list of the things for which I’m grateful. My heart overflows with love when God uses my presence to comfort one who is hurting or when I remember the influence on my life of those who have passed on into the community of saints.
I’m joyful when I recognize that my life is a gift from the Creator, who delights in my delight, who smiles at my joy, who laughs with me in my pleasure.
May these words and photographs bring you great joy and divine happiness. God delights in you.
Beth A. Richardson
Credit: “From the Editor: Happiness” by Beth A. Richardson. Copyright © 2015 Alive Now. From July/August 2015 Alive Now. Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room. Purchase a copy of this issue on “Happiness” by calling 1.800.972.0433. Or download the digital issue today.