In the hit song “Happy”, Pharrell Williams has an uplifting tune and dance routine with energy to blast through any bad news trying to drag you down. The lyrics say to “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth; Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.”
Do you know what happiness is to you? Sigmund Freud, the renowned psychologist from the early 1900’s equates happiness with pleasure, specifically the pleasure that comes from satisfying sexual needs. The “pleasure principle,” writes Freud, “dominates the operation of the mental apparatus from the start.” C.S. Lewis disagrees with Freud that sexual satisfaction provides the strongest experiences of pleasure and is thus the prototype of all happiness. In God in the Dock, Lewis argues that happiness even in a marriage depends on considerably more than sexual compatibility. “When two people achieve lasting happiness, this is not solely because they are great lovers but because they are also – I must put it crudely – good people; controlled, loyal, fair-minded, mutually adaptable people.”
Happiness is: “On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love them and show Myself to them.” – John 14:20-21. Wow! Happiness is realizing that we have a relationship with the Father through His Son Jesus the Christ. Through His death, resurrection and ascension Jesus reconnected what got disconnected in the Garden of Eden – the foundational relationship our Heavenly Father desires us to live in.
C.S. Lewis asserts that the primary purpose of our lives is to establish a relationship with the Person who placed us here. Until that relationship is established, all of our attempts to attain happiness – our quest for recognition, for money, for power, for the perfect marriage or the ideal friendship, for all that we spend our lives seeking – will always fall short, will never quite satisfy the longing, fill the void, quell the restlessness, or make us happy. Lewis explains that “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.” (This contrast of worldviews in the writings of Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis is conveyed in “The Question of God” by Dr. Armand Nicholi, Jr.)
Prayer guide: Lord, I confess I have spent a good bit of life pursuing happiness through performance in this world – performance that would provide a measure of pleasure in school, sports, in work, in marriage and in family. I believed the lie that pleasure derived from such efforts would result in happiness. In fact it is more like a drug that I wanted more of. Thank You for Your Son Jesus the Christ who got my attention and turned my heart to You. By Your grace I am growing in relationship with You, learning to live that relationship in marriage and experiencing happiness in a whole new Light. Amen.
A faithful father experiences happiness in relationship with the Father through His Son.