"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."
I've been thinking about happiness lately and how much it truly matters in our lives... and how much we blow it off sometimes, thinking that we have to suffer through, and that eventually after enough suffering we will "find" it somewhere. I think we too easily fall into that trap, thinking that happiness comes later, after we struggle enough... and that somehow it is tied to economic success or success in some kind of romantic relationship. If we only made this much, or if we only were married, or if only... anything else in the world... THEN we'd be happy.
I was reading a conference talk this morning from October 2002, on fun and happiness, and how they are different, but that we easily confuse them. We think sometimes that happiness is in the moment, and that as soon as those moments pass we're back to the non-happy norm. It mentioned that both fun and happiness were fine, but that happiness is what we should be striving for as a higher priority, as it is more lasting and valuable in an eternal sense.
This verse touches on some parts of the happiness that God offers, and how to get it. Obedience to God's commandments is part of it for sure, because happiness is the object and design of our existence. Everything God does is designed to make us happier. Of course, in the short-term that definitely doesn't mean that all of it will be fun. But the happiness that God offers is a more resilient kind than we realize... and we have the capability of being happy in the midst of tragedy. Not in an "I'm so happy that everyone is being attacked by giant mutated vegetables" sort of a way, but in a "I know that God is still in control, and that he'll help me" sort of a way. A confidence and a background happiness that nothing can rob us of. Thus, even when we feel sad about something in our lives, we know that things will be okay, and that the sadness won't be permanent... because all sadness can be swallowed up by the joy of God.
It's easy to say all of this, I realize. We have things in our lives that can seem like permanent blockages to happiness, and we have times when we're so stressed out by things that happiness is hard to feel. Sometimes our minds can haunt us with memories of past failure or rejection, and we feel paralyzed or inadequate to the challenges that we face. The "blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual" might not be at exactly the level we need to save the house or the relationship that we value highly. Even though we know God is faithful, it isn't always easy to trust that his way is better when we've just lost something we care about, or when memories are clogging our minds with messages of worthlessness. Today, though... let's make the attempt. Let's trust God enough to pray to him about the obstacles to our happiness. Let's try to step back and find happy things and hope in the midst of the pain. Let's be more obedient and more loving to the people around us, protecting their happiness as much as we can.
God's happiness is achievable. And it is the whole point... everything that God does is designed to help us achieve it. In the scriptures we meet people who are able to be happy in the midst of slavery, in prison, and during lots of other afflictions. Let's not blow it off or think that happiness comes later, after suffering for a while. Let's talk to God about it today, know that it is a real possibility on a daily basis, and make it a serious pursuit in our lives.