Did you know that yesterday (20 March) was World Happiness Day? And on that day for the last five years, an organization has been ranking the level of “happiness” in 155 participating countries. Today’s article addresses the search for happiness and how to respond to anything else.
For example, consider some of the following ways and reasons the Lord encourages sadness in certain situations and for specific purposes.
- In Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, the prophet tells us the Messiah would be a suffering servant, acquainted with grief. Some of Christ’s suffering were uniquely His to bear as our Savior. But because He created us in His image, we are to bear other aspects of His suffering. Discuss these point with others and elaborate from Scripture.
- Under what circumstances does the Lord call His people and the priests to weep in Joel 2:12-17?
- According to Luke 6:17-26, when and why does the Lord Jesus say it is good to weep?
- In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus praises a woman whose repentance is seen in her crying, yet in Hebrews 12:16-17 Esau’s tears have no effect. What seems to be the difference between the two?
- Read Romans 12:9ff. How can “weeping with those who weep” be an expression of sincere/genuine love?
- For what purpose does God’s Word call people to “grieve, mourn, and wail” in James 4:1-10?
Now consider this week’s article.
Norway ranked World’s Happiest Country
“Help! My happiness has fallen!” by Chaplain Jeff Dillard (21 March 2017)
This past March 20th was the fifth official observance of World Happiness Day, as ranked by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). The SDSN is a global initiative for the United Nations begun by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to foster increased globalization by promoting the integration of economics, socials norms, and environmental values. The SDSN weights self-reports of experienced caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance as the main contributors to happiness. This year, Norway rose from #2 to #1 and the United States slipped from #13 to #14 among the 155 countries participating and assessing factors including gross domestic product per capita, healthy life expectancy, generosity and perceived freedom to make life choices. “An analysis of the country included in the report cites a severe deterioration of America’s educational system, increased mortality rates, climbing inequality, and more perceived corruption of government and business. U.S. leaders, it suggests, remain too focused on economic growth, ignoring the deepening divisions and angst in American society. According to the report, “The U.S. offers a vivid portrait of a country that is looking for happiness in all the wrong places, mired in a roiling social crisis that is getting worse.” Among the least happy were Tanzania, Burundi, and the Central African Republic. (https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2017-03-20/norway-ranked-worlds-happiest-country-of-2017) How are you doing?
Most of us have probably seen and remember the commercial for Life Alert, a medical alert system designed to notify key personnel in the event of a senior’s home health emergency. It is exceptionally effective at grabbing our attention and prompting us to wonder about the safety of the people we treasure or our own safety. Happiness and every other emotion is always based in someone or something that we treasure, especially as we perceive that treasure in someone’s hands: our parents’ safety depending on us, our financial security in the hands of an investor and/or our spouse, our children’s reputation under us, their teachers, and coaches, our sense of worth in our own eyes.
The list is certainly not exhaustive, but it could be exhausting to go on evaluating our many treasures. “Happiness” as defined by the SDSN is circumstantial, however, and not necessarily synonymous with emotional health. There are many times when sorrow, anger, and/or fear are more appropriate. To discern what would be most honorable and helpful to us individually and socially, ask yourself…
- Exactly what am I treasuring? Peel back the layers until you reach the core of what you’re valuing.
- Is it like solid gold, unrefined gold, gold-plating, or fool’s gold? Who agrees or disagrees with you?
- Has it been or is it being truly gained, lost, violated, or threatened? And how do you know for sure?
- How is the value you’ve assigned to this person or thing effecting other areas of your life?
- Who do you trust to value it with you or to advise you to exchange it for a greater treasure?
All of us want to be happy, but joy involves inventorying our treasure chest: whoever or whatever we treasure in our chest. That may bring a smile to our face, but our journey for joy can rightly include tears, confrontations, and guarding our hearts. Falling down can create opportunities for all of those.
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