must be his own fault, for God made all men to be happy." A
Christian writer, St. Bernard, said something similar. "Nothing can
work me damage except myself; the harm that I sustain I carry about
with me, and never am a real sufferer but by my own fault." These
two men represent the internal philosophy of happiness. External
mean nothing, and need have no effect upon the happiness of a
person, is their view.
External evil is recognized as a reality, but one does not need to
let it penetrate his inner being. Epictetus, for example, said, "I must
die, but must I die sorrowing? I must be put in chains. Must I then
Man, what are you saying? You may put my body in prison, but my mind not even Zeus himself can overpower." Here is a rare example of how even a pagan slave can, by the power of positive thinking,
can bring happiness in spite of the fact that the suicide rate is higher among the haves than among the have nots. Abdalrahman the Khalif had thousands of wives, and millions upon millions of wealth, but this is what he wrote near the end of his life: "I have now reigned above 50 years in victory or peace. I have been beloved of my subjects,
honor, power and pleasure have waited on my call, nor does any
earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this
situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine
happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to fourteen."
have a hard time believing that there is any hope of happiness apart from externals. Aristotle represented the Greek view when he said that the blessed life was impossible to the diseased, the poor, and the slave. Samuel Johnson had a close friend who said that his
sister-in-law was really a happy woman. This made Johnson mad,
and he replied like the brute he could be, "If your sister-in-law is
really the contented being she professes herself, sir, her life gives the
went away growling, "I tell you the woman is ugly, and sickly, and
foolish and poor, and would it not make a man hang himself to hear
such a creature say she was happy?" The very idea of being happy
without the values so treasured by his materialistic heart made him
angry. It does not seem fair to the secularist who has struggled for all
the externals of wealth, power, and fame to see people who are happy
who have not made the struggle.
Paul would have made him angry by his words in Phil. 4:11-12.
Paul said, "...For I have learned to be content whatever the
circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is
to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and
every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty
or in want." Paul's happiness was not dependent upon what
happened, or what he had. This means that Paul's happiness was
internal. Paul did not have control over the externals of his life, but
If it is only going to be a happy new year for us if we get more stuff, and all goes well, then we are living on a different level than Paul was on. This does not mean we should not get more stuff, and
that they can. But if this is your only level of happiness you are too
controlled by the externals, and changes can quickly rob you of your
joy in Christ. We need to see the externals as fringe benefits, and not
the base salary of the Christian life. The foundation is to be internal
and attitudinal rather than external and material. Jesus and Paul
agree here completely. Happiness does not depend on what happens,
but on how you face all that happens. Jesus is saying in the beatitudes
that you can be happy even if you are experiencing many negative
Use your Facebook login and see what your friends are reading and sharing.
Now bringing you back...