Recently, I listened to Nathan Rittenhouse’s talk, “Is Happiness Sustainable.”
Fairytales end with the line, “And they all lived happily ever after.” Perhaps living happily isn’t the unrealistic part of this line, but rather the “ever after” part. We all have moments of happiness on earth. However, eventually the happiness runs out. Perhaps the unrealistic line we all crave is the “ever after.”
First, he clarifies what it is our souls are longing for…
“The sustainability of satisfaction is directly proportional to the sustainability of the thing that satisfies you.”
“Oftentimes, we say we are looking for something sustainable, but we’re actually looking for something more in the category of restoration or redemptive.”
“[Biblical writers] use language like, ‘God restores my soul,’ which sounds a lot deeper than ‘God makes me happy.’”
Then, he gives steps for finding it…
“Stabilized satisfaction remembers and rejoices in the completion of the good things of the past, it embraces the peace of the present, and it grins with hope for the future.”
“Salvation is when your true identity is based in your ultimate reality … We believe you are made in the image of God, that the reality of your life is personal, and the goal of your life is to be in proper relationship with that which is ultimate.”
“Commitment precedes emotion. That makes the emotion safe, delightful. It’s not saying happiness is based on emotion. It’s based on a commitment, and the emotions flow from that.”
“Gratitude is the foundation of joy.”
Ultimately pointing us towards Christ…
‘"Let anyone who is thirsty come to me [Jesus] and drink’ … [Jesus] picks up this language of the soul of a longing for something that satisfies and satiates, and we can’t find something in this world to satisfy that. He points to Himself as that and says, ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living waters will flow from within’ … It’s a world of abundance, not of sustainability. It goes beyond."
‘"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ … ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Maybe the vision of happiness you’re longing for is a vision of happiness that doesn’t have work involved with it. Notice Jesus says I will give you rest for your souls, not rest for your shoulders."
Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack, but sooooo good. As clarification, my quotes aren’t entirely in the order Nathan said them. I’d love to hear how you understood the talk differently. This is one of those talks that takes a few listen-throughs. The most common advice I receive as a young professional trying to chart my life direction is, “Do what makes you happy.” I tried that, and needless to say it didnt work well when my work wasn’t particularly successful. While scrolling through the RZIM YouTube page, this topic stood out because that advice hasn’t worked well.
- What stood out to you from the message, and do you agree with how I summarized it?
- What are times you have found happiness in Christ or times when the world’s emptiness caused you to see Christ more deeply? What Scripture stood out to you in those times?
- The talk turns to Genesis 2 to touch on how relationships and work can give us satisfaction. What are times in your life of that pointing you to Christ?
- Is there a Bible story that stands out to you about a character wrestling with this quest for happiness?