Who is it among us that does not desire a happy life? Having read this Psalm from several different versions, I find myself attracted most to Eugene H. Peterson’s paraphrase because he, perhaps more than others, focuses upon the happy life that God desires for all of us. I invite you to catch some of Peterson’s phrases:
…All you who fear Yahweh, how blessed you are!
…How happily you walk on his smooth straight road!
…Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness!
…Stand in awe of God’s Yes.
…Oh, how He blesses the one who fears Yahweh!
…Enjoy the good life in Jerusalem, every day of your life.
I had the fortune of being raised in a wonderful Christian home. My father, who passed away when I was a child of ten years, was a deacon in our home church and was highly respected in our small town. My mother, who never remarried, was a godly woman who instilled in her five children a love for the Lord. I often think of a plaque that hung on our dining room wall as I was growing up that contained that familiar saying, “The family that prays together, stays together.” In my childhood growing up, mother set the example of prayer for her children to follow. Despite the fact that we often lacked all of the material blessings enjoyed by some of our neighbors, we had a spirit of joy, peace and happiness in our home that seemed lacking in the lives of many who lived around us.
I love the words of Thomas Merton when in his work entitled “The Silence of the Psalms, he observes:
“We bring the substance of our own lives to the Psalter and offer it to Christ to be transformed by Him…. Since life on earth is what it is, we all have plenty of trouble, plenty of suffering, plenty of misery. We have our joys too. And we should not omit to offer them to Christ and unite them with His joys. But I insist on the importance of bringing our sufferings because it is precisely these that He wishes to transfigure into His purest joys.
(After all, the real joys of life do not come when we super-naturalize our trifling little human successes with an act of pure intention. We enter into true joy through the center of our own nothingness. We find true happiness by dying, because our truest happiness belongs to heaven and we can only enter heaven by dying to the things of earth.”
Yes, I am learning that happiness in life comes when in the words of Peterson; I can “stand in awe of God’s yes.”
- Louis George
Hinesburg United Church and their pastor Jared Hamilton
Holderness Community Church and their pastor Dan Ward
First Baptist Church, Hudson and their pastor Moa Imchen