May 25, 2015
My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, "My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD." ... But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:17-18, 21-23
What makes people happy?
Science Direct decided it would try to find out. In and of itself, that is a Herculean task. But they also wanted to find out whether people's priorities had changed over the years. To do that, they went to a small British town by the name of Bolton.
They picked Bolton because, in 1938, some citizens of that community had answered a survey in which they rated the things they thought would make them happy. Now, 76 years later, the present members of the Bolton community were asked to rate the 10 things they believed would make them happy with life.
It's not surprising that there were changes.
In 1938, toward the end of the Great Depression and right before World War II, people said the three most important things to their happiness were security, knowledge and religion. In 2014, eroding values and an attitude which says, "The world owes me," created a list wherein the three top priorities were leisure, good humor and security.
Religion had dropped to position number 10.
You should know religion was not the only attitude that was clobbered in the survey. Back in 1938 the survey recipients said they were happiest when they were at home and in their community. Today the majority of responders said they found their greatest joy when they were away from their homes, their home town, and their normal lives.
I would imagine if they take the survey in another 70 or 80 years hence, the priorities will once again be reordered. About the only thing that will remain the same is this: sinful people who live in a sinful world are going to be hard-pressed to find lasting happiness.
There will always be an event, a person, a situation, or a circumstance that will mess things up. That's what the writer of Lamentations discovered. It's probably what you know, too.
This is why we need the Savior.
Understand, knowing and believing on Jesus doesn't make us immune from unhappiness. Difficult times come to believers and unbelievers alike. But, when we have been washed of our sins by the Savior's sacrifice, when we have been adopted into the family of faith, when we have been guaranteed a place in heaven, things change.
Knowing the Lord is faithful, His mercies never ending, and His love inexhaustible, we are given hope and happiness, which are renewed every day. It is a happiness that doesn't change.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, sin, the world, and Satan do their best to rob me of joy and happiness. I give thanks that, because of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, they will not succeed. In the Savior's Name I give thanks. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries