“Happy is everyone who fears Jehovah, who walks in His ways.”—PS. 128:1.
SONG 110 “The Joy of Jehovah”
1. What is our “spiritual need,” and how is it related to happiness?
TRUE happiness is not simply a lighthearted feeling that comes and goes. It can last throughout a person’s life. How so? Jesus explained in his Sermon on the Mount: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matt. 5:3) Jesus knew that humans are made with an intense desire to know and worship their Creator, Jehovah God. That is our “spiritual need.” And since Jehovah is “the happy God,” those who worship him can also be happy.—1 Tim. 1:11.
2-3. (a) According to Jesus, who else can be happy? (b) What will we discuss in this article, and why is this needed?
2 Do we need ideal circumstances in our life to be happy? No. In his sermon, Jesus said something surprising. “Those who mourn”—either because of being crushed by their sins or because of experiencing distressing circumstances in their lives—can be happy. Jesus said the same about “those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake” or those who suffer “reproach” for being a follower of Christ. (Matt. 5:4, 10, 11) But how is it possible to be truly happy in such situations?
3 Jesus was teaching us that happiness results, not from having ideal circumstances in our life, but from satisfying our spiritual need and drawing close to God. (Jas. 4:8) How can we do so? In this article, we will discuss three basic steps that lead to true happiness.
TAKE IN SPIRITUAL FOOD
4. What is the first step toward finding true happiness? (Psalm 1:1-3)
4 STEP 1: To be truly happy, we must take in spiritual food. Both humans and animals need physical food to survive. But only humans can take in spiritual food. And we need it. That is why Jesus said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matt. 4:4) Therefore, we should not let a day go by without taking in some spiritual food from God’s precious Word, the Bible. The psalmist observed: ‘Happy is the man whose delight is in the law of Jehovah and who reads it day and night.’—Read Psalm 1:1-3.
5-6. (a) What can we learn from the Bible? (b) In what ways can reading the Bible help us?
5 In the Bible, Jehovah has lovingly given us vital information on how to live a happy life. We learn what his purpose is for our life. We learn how we can draw close to him and gain his forgiveness for our sins. And we learn about the wonderful hope that he promises for the future. (Jer. 29:11) These truths that we gain from a study of the Bible fill our heart with joy!
6 As we know, the Bible is also full of practical counsel for everyday life. When we follow that counsel, we can find happiness. Whenever you feel discouraged by life’s problems, spend more time reading Jehovah’s Word and meditating on it. Jesus said: “Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”—Luke 11:28.
7. How can you get the most out of the time you spend reading God’s Word?
7 As you read God’s Word, take your time to savor what you read. To illustrate, have you ever had this experience? Someone cooks one of your favorite meals. But either because you are too hurried or are too preoccupied mentally, you gulp it down without really tasting each morsel. After you finish eating, you realize how quickly you ate and you wish you had slowed down and enjoyed each bite. Well, have you ever read the Bible in such haste that you failed to savor its message? Take the time to enjoy reading God’s Word; visualize the scenes, imagine the sounds of the voices, and think about what you have read. The whole experience will add to your happiness.
8. How is “the faithful and discreet slave” fulfilling its role? (See also footnote.)
8 Jesus appointed “the faithful and discreet slave” to provide spiritual food at the proper time, and we are very well-fed spiritually.b (Matt. 24:45) The inspired Scriptures are the primary ingredient in everything the faithful slave produces. (1 Thess. 2:13) That spiritual food thus helps us to know Jehovah’s thinking as revealed in the Bible. This is why we read the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and the articles on jw.org. We prepare for the midweek and weekend congregation meetings. And we watch each monthly program on JW Broadcasting® if available. Taking in ample spiritual food will help us take the second step that leads to real happiness.
LIVE BY JEHOVAH’S STANDARDS
9. What is the second step that leads to true happiness?
9 STEP 2: To be truly happy, we need to live by Jehovah’s standards. The psalmist wrote: “Happy is everyone who fears Jehovah, who walks in His ways.” (Ps. 128:1) To fear Jehovah means that we respect him so much that we avoid doing anything that displeases him. (Prov. 16:6) Thus, we continually strive to conform to God’s standards of right and wrong as explained in the pages of the Bible. (2 Cor. 7:1) We will be happy if we do the things that Jehovah loves and reject the things that he hates.—Ps. 37:27; 97:10; Rom. 12:9.
10. According to Romans 12:2, what is our responsibility?
10 Read Romans 12:2. A person may know that Jehovah has the authority to decide what is right and what is wrong, but he must also accept God’s standards for himself. For example, a person may know that the government has the right to set highway speed limits. But he may not be willing to accept those limits for himself. As a result, he drives faster than he should. We show by our conduct that we truly believe that following Jehovah’s standards is the best way to live. (Prov. 12:28) David felt that way, for he said of Jehovah: “You make known to me the path of life. In your presence is abundant joy; there is happiness at your right hand forever.”—Ps. 16:11.
11-12. (a) When we are troubled or discouraged, of what must we be careful? (b) How can the words of Philippians 4:8 help us when choosing entertainment?
11 When we are troubled or discouraged, we might feel the need for some sort of diversion to escape our problems. That is understandable, but we must be careful not to be drawn into doing something that Jehovah hates.—Eph. 5:10-12, 15-17.
12 In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul urged Christians to continue considering things that are “righteous, . . . chaste, . . . lovable, [and] virtuous.” (Read Philippians 4:8.) Although Paul was not writing specifically on the subject of entertainment, what he wrote should influence the pastimes that we choose. Try this: Wherever the generic word “things” appears in the verse, substitute it with the word “songs,” “movies,” “novels,” or “video games.” Doing this can help you to discern which ones may be acceptable in God’s view and which ones may not be. We want to bring our life into harmony with Jehovah’s lofty standards. (Ps. 119:1-3) Then with a clear conscience, we can take the next step that leads to real happiness.—Acts 23:1.
PUT THE WORSHIP OF JEHOVAH FIRST
13. What is the third step that leads to true happiness? (John 4:23, 24)
13 STEP 3: Make sure that the worship of Jehovah comes first in your life. As our Creator, Jehovah richly deserves our worship. (Rev. 4:11; 14:6, 7) Thus, we need to give priority to worshipping him in the way that he approves, “with spirit and truth.” (Read John 4:23, 24.) We want God’s holy spirit to guide our worship so that it is in harmony with the truths that are found in his Word. Our worship must come first even if we live in a land where our work is restricted or banned. Right now, over 100 of our brothers and sisters are imprisoned simply because they are Jehovah’s Witnesses.c Even so, they happily do whatever they can to pray, study, and tell others about our God and his Kingdom. When we are reproached or persecuted, we can be happy knowing that Jehovah is with us and that he will reward us.—Jas. 1:12; 1 Pet. 4:14.
A TRUE-LIFE EXAMPLE
14. What happened to a young brother in Tajikistan, and why?
14 Real-life experiences confirm that the three steps we just considered do lead to true happiness, regardless of our circumstances. Consider what happened to 19-year-old Jovidon Bobojonov, from Tajikistan, who refused to take up military service. On October 4, 2019, he was abducted from his home, kept in detention for months, and treated like a criminal. This injustice received international attention. It was reported that he was beaten in an attempt to pressure him to take a military oath of allegiance and to put on a uniform. After that, he was convicted and sent to a labor camp until finally the president of the country pardoned him and ordered his release. Throughout the entire ordeal, Jovidon maintained his integrity and his happiness. How? By always being conscious of his spiritual need.
15. How did Jovidon take in spiritual food while in prison?
15 While in prison, Jovidon took in spiritual food, even when he did not have a Bible or any of our publications. How was that possible? Local brothers and sisters delivered physical food to him and wrote the day’s text on the grocery bags. Thus, he was able to read the Bible and meditate on it every day. After his release from prison, he had this advice for those who have not yet faced severe trials: “It is imperative that you use your freedom to the fullest to deepen your knowledge of Jehovah by reading his Word and our publications.”
16. On what did Jovidon focus his thoughts?
16 Our brother lived by Jehovah’s standards. Rather than dwell on wrong desires and get involved in bad conduct, he focused on Jehovah and on what He values. Jovidon marveled at the beauty of God’s creation. Every morning he woke up to the sounds of birds chirping and singing. At night he gazed at the moon and the stars. He said: “Those gifts from Jehovah made me feel happy and encouraged.” When we are grateful for Jehovah’s spiritual and physical provisions, we have a joyful heart, and that joy can strengthen our ability to endure.
17. How can the words of 1 Peter 1:6, 7 apply to a person who might be in a situation similar to that of Jovidon?
17 Jovidon also put the worship of Jehovah first. He knew the importance of keeping his integrity to the true God. Jesus said: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Luke 4:8) Military commanders and soldiers wanted Jovidon to give up his religion. Instead, he prayed intensely every day and every night, asking Jehovah to help him not to give up and not to compromise his faith. In spite of the unjust treatment he received, Jovidon never did compromise. As a result, he can now greatly rejoice in having something he did not have before he was abducted, beaten, and imprisoned—a tested faith.—Read 1 Peter 1:6, 7.
18. How can we maintain our happiness?
18 Jehovah knows what we need to be truly happy. If you follow the three steps that lead to true happiness, you can maintain your happiness in spite of difficult challenges. Then you too will be able to say: “Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!”—Ps. 144:15.
SONG 89 Listen, Obey, and Be Blessed
a For many, real happiness is hard to find because they go about looking for it in the wrong way by pursuing pleasures, wealth, fame, or power. Yet, when Jesus was on earth, he told people how to find it. In this article, we will examine three steps that can help us find true happiness.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: In this reenactment, fellow Witnesses show their support for a brother who is being arrested and taken to court to be prosecuted.