Connected to Happiness - 26 April 2018

Louise Gevers

“Seek your happiness in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desire.” Psalm37:4 “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” Psalm 144:15

Happiness is a much sought after, much desired state of being: elusive, as it means different things to different people; and fleeting, if we measure it by the moments of enjoyment in which we love, laugh and enjoy ourselves. Like so many people today, King Solomon found life meaningless. He advised, “Enjoy life with the one you love, as long as you live the useless life that God has given you in this world.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9 (GNT)) These words are surprising, coming from the man to whom God had said, “‘Ask me for whatever you want me to give you.’” (2 Chronicles 1:7) Perhaps his answer should’ve been, “Please give me what You know will best bring me happiness”?

Solomon acknowledged that love was a source of happiness, along with honesty, satisfaction from work and “hav(ing) reverence for God, and obey(ing) his commands …” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), but he generally appears very despondent throughout his writing. I always feel sorry for Solomon, despite God’s great blessing of wisdom and riches to him, because he was born before Jesus came to the earth, and too early to experience the abundant life that only He can give. Even though he possessed great wisdom and wealth, which built his kingdom, which he then found to be meaningless, he fell into the trap of looking for more power through riches and women, thus turning his focus away from God, who had blessed him with more than his heart had desired, and towards idols.

The truth is that we can gain the whole world but lose our soul, (Mark 8:36) and find everything “useless” like Solomon, or go away, despondent, like the rich young ruler who, after asking Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, went away “very sad, because he was very rich” (Luke 18:23) because Jesus had told him to sell all he had and to give his money to the poor. Being tied to our blessings can destroy our happiness, material or other. We indulge ourselves and can’t see the danger.

Paul said, “… they will know God’s secret, which is Christ himself. He is the key that opens all the hidden treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3) What he means is this: true and everlasting happiness lies in knowing Jesus, who alone is able to unlock the treasures.  We sometimes fool ourselves into believing what we see and live life according to appearance rather than the truth, the opposite of what the Bible teaches. God denies happiness to no-one who serves Him: “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!” (Matthew 5:6) He is happiness...

Prayer: Father, we know that we are at our happiest through finding meaning to our lives when we follow Jesus, who opens to us Your hidden resources. Thank You for the rich happiness we experience as Your people when we love sacrificially and share our blessings. Please root our true happiness in Your love. Amen

Connected to Loneliness - 25 April 2018

Louise Gevers

“Turn to me, LORD, and be merciful to me, because I am lonely and weak. Relieve me of my worries and save me from all my troubles.” Psalm 25:16-17

Whether we have a physical impediment; are bedridden; are far away from those we love; are misunderstood, undervalued, or rejected by those we care about (and those we don’t); are in pain, are afraid, or feel guilty, loneliness is a very real concern and carries, with it, anxiety and sadness, regardless of our age and who we are. When there’s give and take on both sides, we connect with others, but when this is absent, we may feel lonely even when we’re with others.

This wasn’t what God intended. He said, “‘it is not good for the man to live alone’” (Genesis 2:18) and by the very process that He used to create Eve from Adam, He showed that He intended them to be connected beings. He also said, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” Genesis 1:28, 9:7

Solomon observed, “Two are better than one …” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) keeping each other warm and defending themselves, because loneliness and weakness are often linked - much like troubles and worries. They feed off each other and make us become too aware of our needs and we convince ourselves of our inability to deal with them. We feel stronger and more resilient when we have others alongside us, especially when we sense we are out of our depth and that our circumstances could overwhelm us.

David’s prayer could be our prayer today. Even though he was the king and could have had anything he wanted, he was lonely and recognised that his help could not come from earthly things. He identified that something within him needed attention, which only God could deal with. His loneliness stemmed from being disconnected from God, which he acknowledged. He knew that God could turn the situation around and release him from his troubles, and pleaded, “Consider my distress and suffering and forgive all my sins.” (Psalm 25:18) It’s liberating to identify and acknowledge how we’re feeling, but even more restorative to pour out our problems to a sympathetic listener who can help us. Sometimes we need to pour out our sins, and God restores us completely.

Those who are connected to God and others seldom really feel lonely, but when they do, they can be sure that God has never left them, but hears their heart’s cry before their words.

Times of loneliness can actually be beneficial if we use them effectively to grow closer to God, just as David did. Our problems are actually not as important as the way we handle them, and we have the choice, which determines the outcome.

Prayer: “Teach me your ways, O LORD; make them known to me. Teach me to live according to your truth, for you are my God, who saves me. I always trust in you.” Amen (Psalm 25:4-5)

Verbind tot geluk - 26 April 2018

Louise Gevers

Gelukkig is die volk met wie dit so gaan. Dit gaan goed met die volk wie se God die Here is!  Psalm 144:15

Geluk is iets waarna mense verlang, iets waarna hulle smag – iets wat mense ontwyk, want dit beteken verskillende dinge vir verskillende mense. Dit is ook vlietend as ons dit meet aan die tye wat ons liefhet, lag en onsself geniet. Soos die geval is met baie mense vandag, het koning Salomo ook die lewe betekenisloos gevind. Sy raad was: "Geniet die lewe met die vrou wat jy liefhet, dié lewe wat tot niks kom nie, maar wat God jou in hierdie wêreld gegee het, die hele lewe wat tot niks kom nie." (Prediker 9:9) Hierdie woorde is verrassend komende van die man vir wie God gesê het: “Vra wat Ek jou moet gee.” (2 Kronieke 1:7) Salomo se antwoord moes miskien gewees het: "Gee asseblief aan my dit wat U weet die beste vir my is en wat vir my geluk sal bring."

Salomo het wel besef dat liefde 'n bron van geluk is, asook eerlikheid, werksbevrediging en om God te dien en sy gebooie te gehoorsaam. (Prediker 12:13), en tog kom hy in die algemeen in sy geskrifte baie moedeloos oor. Ek kry Salomo altyd baie jammer want ten spyte daarvan dat God hom ryklik met wysheid en rykdom geseën het, is hy voor die koms van Jesus na die aarde gebore, en dus te vroeg om die oorvloedige lewe te beleef wat net Hy kan gee. Selfs al het hy oor groot wysheid en rykdom beskik wat sy koninkryk versterk het, het hy gevind dat alles tot niks kom nie. Hy het in die strik getrap om deur rykdom en vrouens na meer status te soek en dus het hy nie langer op God, wat hom geseën het met meer as wat sy hart begeer het nie, gefokus nie, maar wel op afgode.

Die waarheid is dat ons die hele wêreld as wins kan verkry, maar ons siel kan verloor (Markus 8:36) en soos Salomo kan vind dat alles "tevergeefs" is. Of soos die ryk jong man, wat nadat hy vir Jesus gevra het wat hy moet doen om die ewige lewe te verkry, weggegaan het, diep teleurgesteld want hy was baie ryk (Lukas 18:23) want Jesus het vir hom gesê hy moet alles wat hy het gaan verkoop en die geld vir die armes gee. As ons aan ons seëninge vasklou kan dit ons geluk vernietig. Soms geniet ons onsself so dat ons nie die gevare raaksien nie.

Paulus sê: "… sodat hulle God se geheimenis kan ken. Die geheimenis is Christus, en in Hom is al die verborge skatte van wysheid en kennis te vind. (Kolossense 2b-3) Wat hy hiermee bedoel is: ware en ewige geluk is om Jesus te ken, want Hy alleen kan die skatkis van geluk vir ons ontsluit. Ons mislei onsself soms deur te glo wat ons sien en leef dan 'n lewe volgens voorkoms eerder as volgens die waarheid, die teenoorgestelde van wat die Bybel ons leer. God gun geluk aan almal wat Hom dien. Die Engelse Good News vertaling stel dit baie mooi: “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!” (Matteus 5:6)

Gebed: Vader ons weet ons is op ons gelukkigste wanneer ons die ware betekenis van ons lewens vind deur Jesus te volg en Hy vir ons die verborge skatte ontsluit. Dankie vir die geluk wat ons as u kinders vind deur ons seëninge met ander te deel. Help ons om ware geluk in U te vind. Amen

Verbind tot eensaamheid - 25 April 2018

Louise Gevers

Sien my in genade aan, Here, want ek is eensaam en verstote. Ek verkeer in die allergrootste nood; bevry my tog uit my ellende.  Psalm 25:16-17

Of jy 'n fisiese gebrek het, bedlêend is, ver weg van jou geliefdes is, misverstaan word, nie genoeg waardeer word nie, of verwerp word deur diegene vir wie jy omgee (en diegene vir wie jy nie omgee nie), in pyn verkeer, bang is of skuldig voel, eensaamheid is 'n werklikheid wat, ondanks jou ouderdom of omstandighede, angs en hartseer saam met dit bring. Wanneer dit 'n geval is van gee en neem, is daar 'n verbintenis met ander mense, maar wanneer dit afwesig is, mag ons alleen voel selfs wanneer ons tussen mense is.

Dit is nie hoe God dit bedoel het nie. Hy het gesê: “Dit is nie goed dat die mens alleen is nie" (Genesis 2:18) en deur die proses wat Hy gebruik het om Eva uit Adam te maak, het Hy bewys dat Hy bedoel het dat hulle aan mekaar verbind moet wees. Hy het ook gesê: “Wees vrugbaar, word baie." (Genesis 1:28, 9:7)

Salomo het gesê: "Twee vaar beter as een." (Prediker 4:9-12), hulle hou mekaar warm en kan weerstand bied. Eensaamheid en swakheid word dikwels met mekaar verbind – baie soos probleme en bekommernis. Die een voed die ander en ons kyk so vas teen ons behoeftes en oortuig onsself van 'n onvermoë om dit aan te spreek. Ons voel sterker en lewenskragtiger wanneer ander mense by ons is, veral wanneer ons vermoed dat ons in diep water is en dat ons omstandighede dreig om ons te oorweldig.

Dawid se gebed kan vandag ook ons gebed wees. Selfs al was hy die koning en hy alles kon kry wat hy wou hê, was hy eensaam en het hy besef dat hy nie hulp van aardse dinge kon kry nie. Hy het besef dat iets binne in hom aandag benodig het wat slegs God kon vul. Sy eensaamheid het gekom omdat hy nie aan God verbind was nie, wat hy wel bely het. Hy het geweet dat God die situasie kon verander en hom van al sy probleme kon bevry. Hy pleit by God en sê: "Kyk hoe sleg gaan dit met my en hoe swaar kry ek. Vergewe tog al my sondes." (Psalm 25:18) Dit is bevrydend om te identifiseer en te erken hoe ons voel, maar selfs nog beter om ons harte uit te stort teenoor 'n simpatieke luisteraar wat ons kan help. Soms moet ons ook ons sondes bely, en God herstel ons volkome.

Diegene wat in 'n verbintenis met God en met ander mense is, voel selde alleen, maar wanneer dit wel gebeur, is hulle daarvan oortuig dat God hulle nooit verlaat nie, en dat Hy die roep van hulle harte hoor selfs voordat hulle dit verwoord het.

Tye van eensaamheid kan eintlik voordelig wees as ons dit effektief gebruik om, soos Dawid, nader aan God te groei. Ons probleme is nie so belangrik nie, maar wel die manier waarop ons dit hanteer, en ons het 'n keuse wat die uitkoms sal bepaal.

Gebed: Maak my u wil bekend, Here, leer my u paaie. Laat u waarheid my lei en onderrig my daarin, want U is God, my redder. In U stel ek elke dag my verwagting.  Amen (Psalm 25:4-5)

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