“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance” (Psalm 16:6).
DO YOU THINK DAVID EXPERIENCED MUCH OF WHAT WE MODERN PEOPLE CALL “HAPPINESS”? In many respects his life was a hard one, filled with terrible uncertainty and great sorrow. And yet, he could say, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.” Now certainly, any person who has a right relationship with the Lord can say this, regardless of their outward circumstances. But I have a hunch that David knew a good deal about the happiness of life “under the sun” as well as the joy of life “beyond the sun.”
Many of us think we can’t be happy at all if the “big” things in life aren’t all lined up just exactly right: health, wealth, marriage, children, friends, and so forth. If any of these major departments of life are giving us trouble, we suppose that all hope of happiness must be given up. We don’t want any of it if we can’t have it all.
But David strikes me as a man who would have found happiness in many of the little things in life, even when there was hardship in his big circumstances. David would have known the pleasure of sunrises, sunsets, clouds, and the cool breeze on his face. He would have known the banter of comrades around a campfire. He would have known the whistle of old men at their work. He would have known the laughter of children at their play.
Think of happiness the same way you think of growth. For organic beings, growth is something that takes place in increments so tiny that you can’t see them. If I asked you whether you were growing, you might not see yourself growing by leaps and bounds. But in reality, you might be growing more than you think you are, based on the many little changes that you haven’t been paying much attention to. Similarly, many of us may be happier than we think we are, based on the abundance in our lives of the little things that happiness is really made out of.
No doubt we’d all like to have as much as we can of both kinds of happiness, the big and the little. But let’s not despise the little sources of happiness. Let’s not miss what is available to us.
“The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions — the little soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable and genial feelings” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge).