The Way to Real Happiness
Everyone desires it, everyone strives for it, yet few really find it. What, then, really is the source of true happiness?
HOW much of your life has been spent in trying to find real happiness? Yet how successful have you actually been in reaching that goal? The search for happiness involves our time, our labors, our money; it fills our private lives and takes up most of our day-to-day activity. Men try to achieve happiness through wealth or position, through the love of their families, or through hobbies, music, art or some other activity that especially interests them. Some people even try to gain happiness at the expense of others, and in the process either lose their own peace of mind or harden their own hearts. But however men search for happiness, few can say that they are truly happy today.
There is a book that shows why these men are not happy and what course really does lead to true happiness, even today. That book, the Bible, gives outstanding examples of men who had varying degrees of happiness and of those who were most unhappy. It also explains the real source of true happiness. What can you learn from its examples?
Your Bible shows how the first man had true happiness, but threw it away. He had the opportunity of a glorious family arrangement, having been instructed: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.” He had a beautiful place in which to live, in a garden that Jehovah God planted. He would never be in shortage, because God had said: “Here I have given to you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To you let it serve as food.” He would never be bored, for he was given the opportunity to occupy his mind and to use his hands to cultivate and to take care of the beautiful garden that was his home. Could any man want more? Yes, there was one remaining thing, and this man had that too. He had the blessing of his Creator who pronounced both man and the creation in which he was placed as being “very good.”—Gen. 1:28, 29, 31; 2:15, NW.
Although they had blessings, security, contentment and greater happiness than any man could hope for, our first human parents disobeyed the simple instruction that was given them by their Creator, and in doing so their happiness fled. They found their paradise gone, that the ground was cursed, and this family that had been given such glorious prospects lived even to see its first-born son commit the terrible crime of becoming the murderer of one of his own younger brothers. What a sad end their disobedience to God brought this family! Since their time men have had varying degrees of happiness, but no imperfect man has ever had it to the extent that this first human pair did. Their experience, however, points out the importance of obedience to God on the part of all those who want real happiness.—Gen. 3:17-19.
The lives of other men have illustrated the same thing. Even Adam’s murdered son Abel, who truly served God, was happier than his murderous brother Cain who said: “My punishment for guilt is too great to carry.” Certainly the righteous man Noah was happier than the wild-living people of his time that God destroyed. Consider, too, the example of Abraham. Through his faith in God he was given the outstanding privilege of being an earthly forefather of the Messiah. And after this faithful man’s long and blessed life, we read: “Abraham expired and died in a good old age, old and satisfied.” What brought these men unusual happiness? It is clear that their obedience to Jehovah’s instructions is what did so.—Gen. 4:13; 6:9; 25:8, NW.
The experience of the entire nation of Israel further illustrates this point. When they properly served their God, Jehovah, they were the happiest of people. But when they chose to reject true worship, exactly the opposite was true! In the Bible books of Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles and in many of the prophetic writings you can read how hobnobbing with devil worship brought divine woes upon them, while a sincere return to true worship would bring abundant blessings. The lesson that is here taught again is that true happiness goes hand in hand with obedience to the universe’s Supreme Sovereign.
The Psalms and Proverbs have much to say about the source of true happiness. “Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah.” “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Jehovah his God.” “He that giveth heed unto the word shall find good; and whoso trusteth in Jehovah, happy is he.” But can such statements possibly apply to today’s troubled world? Most certainly they do! In fact, there is even greater reason for happiness today than when these statements were first written.—Ps. 144:15; 146:5; Prov. 16:20, AS.
EVEN GREATER HAPPINESS NOW
There are several reasons why true Christians can have even greater happiness than did these faithful men of pre-Christian times. The first reason is that Jesus provided a great deal of additional, spiritually strengthening knowledge that even the ancient men of faith did not have. Further, Jesus provided the ransom, buying back what Adam had lost for the human race and thereby really opening the way for man to receive God’s blessings and everlasting life. Then, too, we now have the added example that Jesus and the apostles set regarding the course that actually does lead to true happiness—the course of obeying the divine instructions and of making one’s major purpose in life that of helping others to understand them. Jesus said: “If you know these things, happy you are if you do them.” And he further said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—John 13:17; Acts 20:35, NW.
Hence, real happiness comes through the constructive and fruitful work that we have been assigned by God. Adam was happy at his God-assigned work. So was Jesus. And, though it amazes the world, so are his followers today! The work that has been commanded for this day is one that requires those who perform it to have a sound knowledge of God’s Word, and that gives them the great reward of happily being able to give to others who are in need. This is the work that Jesus spoke of when he said concerning our very day: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.”—Matt. 24:14, NW.
Yes, a major reason why one can have even greater happiness now than was possible long centuries ago is that ours is the time to which all these faithful men of God looked forward. Now is the time when God’s kingdom has been established, is being preached throughout the inhabited earth, and when the accomplished end of Satan’s wicked rule is at hand. The world today fears the future, and unless it changes its course and conforms to God’s Word it has every reason to do so.
But the people today who have a sound knowledge of God’s Word, who know from it the reason for earth’s present troubles, how these troubles will end and what they should do about it now, are not oppressed by the world’s fears. They are indeed happy to know that we are living in the days that the Bible spoke of when it said Satan would know that he has only “a short period of time.” Rather than being troubled by earth’s upset conditions, these people who have a true knowledge of God’s Word see in these conditions the sign that marks the approaching end of Satan’s wicked rule and the establishment of righteous conditions earth-wide.—Rev. 12:12; Matthew 24, NW.
Would proof that such good news is true make you happy? Would the opportunity of telling such good news to others add to your joy? Jehovah’s witnesses have seen that proof. They have this happiness. And they consider it an unspeakably joyful privilege to be able to tell this good news to others. Their happiness frequently prompts comments from outsiders, as when the New York World Telegram and Sun headed an article about them: “They’re Brothers, Sisters in Gigantic Family of Faith.” This unusual happiness comes from their knowledge of God’s Word, their obedience to his instructions and their activity in telling others the good things that they have learned.
They know that while Adam’s rebellion apparently postponed Jehovah’s purpose to have this earth peopled with righteous, peaceful, happy creatures, that purpose has not been thwarted. Does it sound impossible that right here upon this earth you still could have the opportunity of enjoying the blessings that Adam lost? The ever-increasing numbers of Jehovah’s witnesses have seen the positive Scriptural proof of the fact that those conditions are soon to be restored.
Will you investigate to see why they are so convinced of the matter, and why this knowledge gives them such joy and contentment today? Certainly it is worth your time and effort to see how you, too, can gain this real happiness now and the promise of everlasting joy in the future. Will you examine the evidences regarding this most important subject? Jehovah’s witnesses earnestly urge you to do so.
Oh praise Jehovah, all ye nations; laud him, all ye peoples. For his loving-kindness is great toward us; and the truth of Jehovah endureth for ever. Praise ye Jehovah.—Psalm 117, AS.