J.C. Ryle on Happiness
How to be more happy...
Happiness ~ Three Necessary Things...
Each Sunday as part of the worship liturgy at church our pastor asks the congregation a question from whatever certain catechism we happen to be working our way through at the time. We respond in unison with the answer to the question (conveniently printed in our worship bulletin). Currently, we are using the Heidelberg Catechism and are on question #2:
Q: How many things are necessary for you to know so that you may live and die happily?
A: There are three things necessary: first, how great my sins and miseries are; second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; and third, how I should express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.Happiness is certainly something I both enjoy experiencing and pursuing (this little blog is called "Happy in Dole Valley" after all...). So after reciting the answer yesterday, I found myself pondering the implications of the three necessary things; the third one in particular.
True and ultimate happiness here in Dole Valley can only be found if I know the three necessary things. Sure the fulfillment of our dream of living in the country, owning our own home, raising our family of five wonderful children, homeschooling, baking bread that is not just edible but delicious (!), being paid real money for my homemade soaps, hats, bonnets, boots, etc., and many, many other blessings are very real sources of happiness.
But without my knowledge of the three necessary things, each and every potential source of happiness in my life eventually fails in its duty. Country living is hard work. My husband's commute to work is L-O-N-G. Homes need repairs from time to time, and repairs are usually expensive: Driveways need to be regraveled, lawns replanted, and decks rebuilt.
I think (I hope) you get my point here. Our stuff is not the source of our happiness. The fruit of our labor is not the source of our happiness. Not even our children can serve as the ultimate source of our happiness. But each, when seen through the eyes of one focused on glorifying his Heavenly Father in deepest gratitude, is a means of happiness - a blessing from God who must indeed be our happiness.
It is not the land, the house, the children, or the abilities God has graciously given to me that provide me with happiness. Rather it is in the acknowledgement that He has, in fact, graciously given them to me that happiness is mine.
Honor the LORD with your possessions and with the firstfruits of your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.Despite all the earthly blessings I have been showered with, I must say that my greatest source of happiness is having what is most important, most valuable, and most needed - redemption and forgiveness! How can I express my gratitude to God for such deliverance? May I walk in a manner worthy of my calling, honor the Lord with all my possessions, and be filled with gratitude and humility for all He has done for me.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;Soli Deo Gloria!
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?