WHAT’S YOUR GOD’S HAPPINESS INDEX (GHI) (PART II)?
By Akin Ojumu
King Solomon spent the better part of his life in pursuit of happiness. As a hedonist devoted to chasing pleasure, there was nothing he didn’t try to appease the hunger for meaning that burned on his inside.
He tried womanizing, winebibbing, and epicurism. His search took him from being a horticulturist and an environmentalist to a developer, slave trader, and rancher. He acquired great riches and amassed stupendous wealth. At one point in his journey, he tried wisdom and at another point, he turned to foolishness.
At the end of it all, the happiness and meaning he sought remained elusive and in none of these things did Solomon find meaning. The more he tried, the further away from him happiness got.
And so, he concluded in Ecclesiastes 2:26:
“To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.”
Failing to learn this important lesson from King Solomon, our world is filled with folks engaged in a quixotic quest to achieve happiness from the things of this world. Consumed by their crusade for meaning, they go to great lengths to quench the hunger inside. Burnt out and frustrated by their failure to achieve their objective, they turn around and turn on God. The Almighty God becomes a patsy for the futility of their effort to become happy.
Satan seizes this opportunity to create, in the imagination of the happiness-seeking mankind, a bogeyman of an untrustworthy character out of God. This gremlin of a Supreme Being is a wicked God who enjoys inflicting pain and misery upon people and loves to deny mankind the good things in life. The Devil paints, in the minds of man, a portrait of a God who is a tyrannical all-powerful deity who wants to keep man perpetually poor, hungry, and unfulfilled.
This idea of God, as a cosmic killjoy who derives pleasure from ruining our fun and who gets his kicks from raining on our parade, is all a lie and nothing can be further from the truth. On the contrary, God wants man to be happy and Jesus is in the business of making people happy.
In fact, the very first sermon Jesus preached was on happiness. I’m referring to Matthew 5, 6, and 7, popularly called the Sermon on the Mount.
In Matthew 5:1-12 we read:
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
This is the passage known as the Beatitudes. It is the first sermon of Jesus recorded in the Bible. As you can see, it’s a passage loaded with a ringing theme of “Blessed…”
The “Blessed” in this passage is translated from the Greek word “Makarios,” which simply means “happy” or “blissful.” The word comes from a root, Makar, which means “to be happy.” It refers to real happiness and not in the world’s sense of happiness based upon positive circumstances.
The ancient Greek concept of makar and makarios is a type of happiness, blissfulness, contentment, and blessedness that is not affected by situations or circumstances.
The “Blessed” in Matthew 5 – i.e., Makar or Makarios – then, connotes an inward bliss, an inward happiness that does not depend on our circumstances and is not subject to change on the basis of our circumstances.
This is the type of blessedness that Jesus preached in His Sermon on the Mount. It is an inner peace, an inner bliss, an inner happiness, an inward joy not produced by circumstances or affected by our situations. It is a state of happiness and wellbeing that God desires his children to live in.
Jesus, in Matthew 5:1-12, shows us how to achieve this Makarios – this blessedness...blissfulness...happiness. Next time, we’ll examine this further and deeper. And as Psalm 68:35 says, “...Blessed be God,” you’ll come to understand that God Himself is Makarios.