Are you kidding me? My world is filled with people screaming about how unhappy they are and are as expectant as a two year old that I should be making them happy. Well, not necessarily me personally, but like infants, everybody seems to want somebody, anybody, to make them happy.
Now basically I am all for happiness. I would rather be happy than unhappy. I would rather be surrounded with happy people, but the best I can do is make them laugh; and laughter is not happiness. In fact, in my world, most of what I see people laughing at is not funny…at all. Yet there is inside of the human creature of all ages and all times this expectation of personal happiness. Inside, down deep real happiness; that comes with the universal realization that it is not self generated.
This is the happiness of which Jesus speaks in Mathew chapter five when he talks to the disciples that have come away from the crowd to follow hIm into the mountains, take a seat at his feet and wait to hear him speak his mind. He takes the opportunity to speak of happiness, true, core happiness. Blessedness some have called it. Not a punch line laughing kind but that deep inside kind that is not impacted by things on the outside. In fact, a happiness that the world can neither give, nor take away.
His comments don’t make sense to the crowd. But he isn’t talking to the crowd. He is speaking to the ones that came out from the crowd, came to him to hear from him, because the crowd did not make sense. Perhaps they were surrounded by a crowd like I find myself surrounded by. People laughing at things and people, that are not funny. While all the time crying out for happiness.
Jesus speaks to them of a happiness that comes to ones who possess the kingdom of heaven, and know what it is to be comforted and have driving appetites fulfilled. A happiness that drives its way out from the inside, not ingested from somewhere outside. He speaks of a journey, a journey not only to happiness but a journey of happiness. He describes it step by step.
This journey begins by experiencing and admitting a brokenness. A spiritual bankruptcy. A personal, inside job of realizing my life is out of control. A knowing that being sorry does not give me strength to overcome a behavior I have come to hate. Jesus calls it being poor in spirit; and he says that is the way we come to receive the kingdom of heaven. But realizing a brokenness is not the end of the journey. A real deep inside sorrow, grief, mourning about that brokenness sets me up for a comforting that is impossible to receive any other way. His words are true, “blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Mourning is not magical though. I have known more than one person who, realizing their brokenness, unable to handle the grief , kill themselves. The next step in the journey is coming to a point where we realize, in our being comforted that there is a power outside ourselves. That very power, if we will admit it that is in fact granting comfort in this condition. A power, rather it seems, a person, giving comfort; real comfort. Jesus goes to the next step and speaks of meekness, and the happiness that comes to us when we are willing to give up the fight and say “Okay Lord, have it your way.” Jesus uses the words “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
When that is done: when we have admitted our brokenness, mourned because of it, given control of our lives over to God then comes the appetite . Jesus speaks of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. It is then that we know the happiness, the joy, the blessedness of right and wrong making a difference. More than ever we want more than anything for things to be right; For us to be right. Not over and against someone else for the first time in our lives but to be right and do right before God. Before this God we don’t even know, but we must get to know, better and better. Jesus says this longing, this hunger, this; I cannot get enough is the path and at the same time the realization of true, deep to the core happiness. This isn’t the end of the journey, just the end of my allot time to enjoy it right now. The journey continues.