January 7, 2013
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel! Psalm 128:1-6
The countries of the world which have the best quality of life are Norway, Australia, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Canada, the USA and South Korea.
Now, here's the surprise.
When people of the world were asked questions to gauge their happiness, the countries which topped the list were Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago, Thailand, Guatemala, the Philippines, Ecuador and Costa Rica.
Amazing! Not a single country from the first list shows up on the second. It appears that happiness is not directly connected to wealth or quality of life.
This has had investigators wondering just why are the people of these poor Latin American countries so very happy.
Various answers have been suggested: Suggestion 1: People are happy because almost everybody is poor. (You don't have to keep up with the Joneses.) Suggestion 2: People are happy because in the face of poverty they force themselves to look at the bright side of things.
But there is a third suggestion which I found to be most compelling. This explanation says the people of Latin America are happy because they still believe and spend time with family. In these countries there is no great rush for young people to make their escape out of the house, no motivation for parents to push their children out.
As family they share dreams and goals and values and their faith in the Savior.
I'm not surprised.
Thousands of years ago the Psalmist talked about the blessings which come to those who fear the Lord. If you look at the list you will quickly see that many of the Lord's blessings which can come to us center around family.
When the Lord says that things will be well with us He gives examples of how that wellness will show itself. For example, those who walk in the Lord's ways will find a home and a family table where He is present and His presence is felt.
Years ago, at a family Thanksgiving dinner I caught my father looking around and grinning from ear to ear. When I asked, "Dad, just what are you smiling at?" he replied, "Ken, someday you will know. Having your Christian kids and grandchildren around you like this is as good as life can get."
Now, more than a quarter century later, I know dad was right.
And so was the Psalmist.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, for the Savior who brings hope, peace and joy to my family, I give thanks. Now I pray the Holy Spirit will keep us all in the faith, so we may be part of a heavenly family reunion, which will never end. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries