Read Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (v. 14).

Are most people happy? Are you happy? Dennis Wholey, author of Are You Happy?, reports that “According to expert opinion, perhaps only 20% of Americans are happy.” He goes on to say that these experts would probably agree with the wry definition of happiness offered by a psychiatrist, Thomas Szasz, who said, “Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children and by children to adults.” The writer of Ecclesiastes had the opportunity and the means to look for happiness in every possible experience, and yet his despondent conclusion was that it was “all vanity and vexation of spirit.” Like Solomon, the British poet, Lord Byron, lived a dissolute life of wine, women, and song. And yet as he lay dying at the age of thirty-six, he wrote, “the worm, the grief, and the canker are mine alone.” This is absolutely true of life — without a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. However, it is altogether true that “Jesus is the joy of living!” Amy Carmichael who poured out her life as a missionary in India serving God and others said it well: “There is nothing dreary and doubtful about life. It is meant to be continually joyful. We are called to a settled happiness in the Lord whose joy is our strength.” (Michael R. Williams)

“Let us leave sadness to the devil and his angels. As for us, what can we be but rejoicing and gladness?” (Francis of Assisi).