Hannah Burke

April 2023
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Psalm 34:8 (King James Version)O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed [or Happy!] is the man that trusteth in him.

Proverbs 19:23 (New International Version)The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Happiness, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, purpose. We live in a world that runs from morning till night seeking, relentlessly, to be full. Countless media – from traditional books to 30 second videos – proclaim that if we just do this one thing, we can achieve that elusive goal. If we follow our bliss, we’ll be truly fulfilled. If we look a certain way, or get our body chemistry just right, or find the right person, we’ll be happy. Or, sadder still, the world abandons all hope of anything meaningful and instead serves up a plate of empty calories in the form of constant distraction, promising that if we never slow down or look up from our digital gods, we’ll never feel badly.

As Christians, very thankfully, God has not left us blindly groping for meaning and joy. He has not left us to figure life out on our own. He beautifully and graciously reveals every secret about life to us in His Word.1 Book after book, verse after verse, word after word, more and more wisdom unfolds for us. We are gifted with these luscious, rich words that are living and powerful, from the breath of God Himself,2 that paint an incredible picture of what our lives now are. 

And yet, somehow, with all of this understanding, our experience does not always reflect what we know. There is often a disconnect, and, if we’re honest and quiet, our experience is not consistently one of happiness, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, and purpose. But God’s Word gives answers. Consider the verses we began with, or the plethora of others that speak similar truths, like:

Romans 15:13 (King James Version)Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

It quickly becomes apparent that what’s lacking is not knowledge, but believing. And this comes as no surprise to the knowledgeable Christian. Generally, when our lives don’t match the Word, we know the problem lies in our faith, and we are left with two questions: 

  1. Why am I not believing?
  2. How do I change?

Let’s examine Psalm 34:8 in more detail:

Psalm 34:8 (King James Version)O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed [or Happy!] is the man that trusteth in him.

From this we can see a process outlined. First, we taste. This is similar to what we see God explaining in Romans 5:

Romans 5:8 (New International Version)But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God says that in giving Christ for us when we were at our most undeserving, He introduces us to His love; it’s an example of how He loves, and it’s only the very beginning of how He wants us to experience that love. God is love,3 and so every genuine interaction with God, whether via the spirit, prayer, the Scriptures, or in His people, can allow us to move past that initial introduction and into the genuine comprehension that He wants us to have.4

In the same way, God is good. And from our very first introduction to God we can see that goodness. As we begin to know who God is and how incredibly good He is, we learn that not only is He good, but He is the originator of anything that is truly good.5  

It is at this point that we have decisions to make. We’ve learned that God is good, and that everything He tells us is good. Wonderful! But…someone hurts my feelings, or makes me angry. And God tells me that I’m supposed to be kind, and tender hearted, and forgive them – not just let it go, but actually forgive them the same way that God forgave me in Christ Jesus.6 And they’re not sorry! And they don’t even understand that they’re wrong! And forgiving them doesn’t feel good or just or right. And we don’t want to do it.

We have to decide, in that moment, what we trust more, our feelings, or our Father. Our believing – and thus our experience of happiness, fulfillment, etc. –  rests on these small decisions, moment by moment, where we determine if God is really as good as He says He is. And even with the promise that happiness comes from trusting in Him, it’s a struggle – and all too often we fall short and don’t experience what God says we can.

These determinations regarding God’s trustworthiness come down to our understanding and faith regarding who He is. And, perhaps more significantly in these decisions, who He is to me. 

Proverbs 19:23 (New International Version)The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

In Proverbs 19:23 we see a slightly different perspective. Here we are told not just to trust, but to fear God.7

Isaiah 40:12–15, 18, 21–22, 25–26, 28–29 (New International Version)Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 

To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

When we consider these truths regarding who this God is that loves us, that is good to us, we are led to the same conclusion as David in Psalm 8.

Psalm 8:3–4 (New International Version)When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

How amazing it is, that God, this God, who created the universe and every living thing, who is eternal, has strength without measure, knowledge beyond what we can fathom, this God, is aware of each of us. And not just aware – He loves us. He is good to us. He cares about something as ridiculous as our happiness. What awe ought that to bring to our hearts?

Isaiah 66:1–2 (English Standard Version)Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

God gives this response on our part another name here – humility. To have an effective relationship with God, we must have this deep-seated awareness of how vast and great God is, and how unlike Him we are. And moving on from that, because God is God and we are not, He absolutely has the right to tell us, His creation, how our relationship works.

Isaiah 45:9–12 (English Standard Version)8“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’ ” Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.

Isaiah 29:15–16 (English Standard Version)Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

We are the creation. We are not the Creator. And we would be wise to consider deeply what our Creator has to say about who we are and how we were designed to work.

Jeremiah 10:23 (English Standard Version)I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

God made me and knows me. He tells us that we are not made to be independent of Him. I am not designed to determine my own path. I am not God’s peer. We are designed to be directed, not the directors of our own lives.

Returning to our original questions – why are we not experiencing the complete happiness, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, and sense of purpose that God promises in His Word in our everyday lives? Why are we not believing? And how do we change?

Who God says we are is diametrically opposed to everything the world says about us. We, as His creation, do not have the right or the ability to successfully determine our own paths. We are made to be subject to His direction and will. When we balk at that, in small ways and large and decide that we know best, and abandon His wise rule over our lives – when we sin and rebel against our God – the discontent and misery that result in our lives should not be surprising. 

When we, instead, embrace humility and take the loving hand of our Father, reaching down to guide us, there is joy. We must remember, despite what the world says, that God is God and we are not. We yield to His instructions, training, and decisions because He is the only uncreated God and we are His handiwork.9 And choosing our own way is as ridiculous as the clay telling the sculptor what it ought to be. In moments where faith is challenging, we walk back through the truths God gives us in His Word. Choose to fear Him, and to trust Him in response to those truths. 

Psalm 34:8–9 (King James Version)O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed [or Happy!] is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want [lack] to them that fear him.

[1] 2 Peter 1:3 (King James Version) — According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.

[2] 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (New International Version) — All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

[3] 1 John 4:8 (King James Version) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

[4] Ephesians 3:14–19; 1 Timothy 2:3–6; John 17:3

[5] Psalm 86:5, James 1:17,  Psalm 84:11

[6] Ephesians 4:32

[7] Fearing God is a topic that has been covered beautifully in previous teachings. For more information try typing in “fear” in the “Teaching Description” under “Search All Teachings” on this website – and have fun with everything you find!

[8] Consider also Isaiah 29:13–16

[9] Psalm 19:1–14