Happiness comes when we learn to trust in God

By Curtis Shelburne: CNJ Religion Columnist

What are the ingredients for a happy life? How do we find happiness?

With the Galilean countryside stretching out below him and the Sea of
Galilee in the distance, Jesus, in what we call “The Sermon on the Mount,”
talked to his listeners about the Kingdom of God and how to be part of
that Kingdom, and what a person looks like who submits to the “rule and
reign of God” in his life.

Was Jesus just another religious teacher? Just another rabbi among many?
No! And one of the clearest proofs of his difference is that other
teachers taught primarily about what a person should DO to be acceptable
to God. Jesus talked about actions, too, but he primarily talked about
what a person must BE by having a real relationship with God, the God who
is our Father.

Almost immediately, Jesus began talking about what it means to be a truly
“blessed” person. We would simply use the word “happy.”

We all want to be that kind of person, don’t we? A good friend and
colleague Joe Barnett writes, “Today, there are four-and-a-half billion of
us. People just like you and me. And more arriving all the time. People
who live in more than 150 countries on this planet—and who speak who knows
how many languages. Yet, despite our differences, and the conflicts which
sometimes arise between us, we all share a common, universal longing—all
saying . . . I Want To Be Happy.”

In a thousand ways, we all strive for that elusive but priceless goal.

Some say, “I’d be happy if I could just go to sleep without being hungry.”

Those of us who are filled know better.

Others say, “I’d be happy if I just had this or that.” But the proud
possessors of “this or that” know better.

Still others say, “I’d be happy if I just lived over there.” But the folks
who live “over there” know better.

We chase happiness, running and running until we fall down exhausted, much
more tired and less happy than before.

If Jesus says anything in the Sermon on the Mount, he says this: You don’t
get happiness by chasing it. You get happiness by trusting in God and
focusing on God, not on yourself.

“How happy are the humble-minded . . .”

“How happy are those who know what sorrow means . . .”

“How happy are those who claim nothing, the meek . . .”

“How happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness . . .”

“These are the very ones who will gain the Kingdom of heaven, who will
find real comfort and peace, who will be forever and fully satisfied.”