Daily Devotion 08 March 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Psalm 126: 2a

‘Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy’

Psalm 144: 15b

‘Happy are the people whose God is the Lord’

When she was a little girl, my sister-in-law came home from church one Sunday and proudly told her older brothers that she had learnt a new song. “What was that?” they asked her, teasingly. and her reply has never been forgotten. “I’m P-P-P-P-Y” she answered with enthusiasm. I often ponder what those Ps might stand for! It’s a chorus that I expect most of us know well and it more usually begins, “I’m H-A-P-P-Y”.

God created us to be happy – he is the one who gave us the deep desire for happiness that’s in us all. He delights in our delight. In the Bible God tells us to be happy more times than any other command. Words such as “rejoice,” “be of good cheer,” “do not be afraid,” “give thanks,” these are all ways of God telling us to be happy.

And just as we know our children need boundaries to experience true happiness, so too we only know true happiness within God’s boundaries for us. Happiness comes when we seek God’s will and obey him in faith. The things in our lives that lead to misery are all things outside God’s will, like failure to forgive, pride, greed and selfishness. Within God’s will are loving relationships, healthy communities, a sense of wonder and awe, and gratitude, as well as unselfishness. Another key component of being happy is helping others, as Jesus taught, loving our neighbour as ourself.

God is our strength, and happiness is found there, in him. When we try to live our lives in our own strength, we won’t find happiness. We’re more likely to be lonely, to wrestle worry, to fight fear and to dwell in despair. God’s strength allows us to surrender the weight of our worry to Him and walk in the joy of that freedom.

God created us for happiness, and the way to find true happiness in this world is to seek the happiness that comes from depending on God. God loves us and wants what is best for us right through our lives. When we do his will, loving others selflessly and finding our strength in him, we discover that happiness is not elusive. But it’s not a worldly quality – it’s a gift from God to us, a gift from our Father who delights in the joy of his children.

The prayer I’ve chosen to use today was written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), an American Reformed theologian. The first four lines have become very well-known but the less familiar second part of the prayer has words that are equally important.

Prayer:

O Lord, God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference;
living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

Reflection © 2021 Ann Caffyn.
Prayer no longer in copyright.
Image freely available online.

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