Happiness can be as elusive as pirate treasure. As if somewhere buried on the lonely beach of life is something that will make us happy, content, and at peace. So we spend a lot of time, energy, and resources searching for it. Hoping to find that one possession, experience, or relationship that will make us happy. If we only had the treasure map.
In a way, Psalm 86:4-5 is a map to the treasure of happiness. “Make glad the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.” (Psalm 86:4–5, NASB95) The first task on this treasure hunt – find the right place to look. The psalmist suggests looking to the Lord instead of the shifting sand of self or others. The second task is to see that God is good. God is not out to steal away our fun, but to replace meaninglessness with purpose and adventure. The third task on this treasure hunt is to receive God’s forgiveness and forgive others. Forgiveness removes the sands of irritation, offense, and bitterness to reveal the treasure chest. (For more on forgiveness see the LifeBridge Study Guide). The fourth task is opening the treasure chest of God’s love by calling on Him for true happiness is only found in God’s love for us. Unlike pirate booty, which can be spent, lost, stolen, and corrupted, God’s love is always there. As the Apostle Paul observes, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39, NASB95) Maybe that is not the treasure you hoped for, but in my experience it is worth far more than anything else that may be found.
There are times of course when we may stumble upon happiness other than God’s love. But that is like finding a coconut on the beach – hard to open and, at best, only temporarily satisfying. Instead, God offers a treasure that will not fade and promises that if we seek it we will find it. He’s even graced us with a map.