I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t want to be happy. Ask any parent, “What do you want for your children?” Answer: “I just want them to be happy.” The United States was founded upon the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Many people live like kings and queens – they have it all — and yet it’s amazing how many people are unhappy. Many people seem lifeless. Bored. Frustrated. Anxious. Cynical. Depressed. Unhappy. Covid-19 has made life difficult but it hasn’t changed us – it has exposed what is already lying beneath the surface.
We might think, “If only I had more money, I’d be happy.” As a teenager I thought that and then my eyes opened. I caddied (carried golf clubs around the course) for rich people at a country club in Connecticut. I observed that many of them were just as miserable (if not more so) than the middleclass people who envied them. Maybe you think a romantic relationship will make you happy? Ask anyone who’s been married for a bit, and they’ll tell you otherwise. Climbing to the top of your industry doesn’t provide lasting happiness. Those who have done that will tell you it’s lonely at the top. Or we may travel the world restlessly pursuing happiness. But it eludes us.
The happiness we crave — the happiness we were made for — can be found in God alone. Psalm 32, Saint Augustine’s favorite psalm, begins, “Blessed / how happy is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!” It ends on a similar note — the songwriter overflowing with gladness. It’s one of the happiest songs in the Bible. Why is the songwriter so happy? Because his sins are forgiven by God! How happy is the forgiven person — that’s the theme of this song!
How surprising. You’ll never hear this song sung on the radio! You might not even hear this song in many churches. We’ve all met people who consider themselves Christians who are always somber and gloomy. But King David, who wrote Psalm 32, shows us that happiness is a mark of true Christianity. King David had it all. He was the most powerful man in his country. The richest man in all Israel. Yet he sings, “How happy is the man whose sins are forgiven.”
In Romans 4, the Apostle Paul quotes Psalm 32:1-2. Through faith in David’s God – who sent his only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die on the cross to bear the judgment we deserve for our sins, our sins are covered by God himself. Surprising as it may be, confessing our sins to God (which implies turning from them, too) leads, not to condemnation and misery, but to forgiveness and genuine happiness – real joy.