Learning Happiness

I'll never forget Harold. Harold was a crippled elderly gentleman who left his apartment only twice a week. His legs were weak from childhood polio. Burn scars were ubiquitous on his body from the fire that destroyed his home and killed his wife. To me there seemed no way he could be happy, living there alone in that wreck of a studio apartment. But, he was. He had learned to be.

In no place does the Bible promise that Christians will enjoy a life free of suffering. As a matter of fact, early disciples suffered because they were Christian (2 Timothy 3:12). The Lord Jesus painfully endured the cross and by His stripes we find spiritual healing (1 Peter 2:24). Pain and suffering, therefore, are not inherently evil. Bad things do happen to good people (Job 1).

On each side of Harold's recliner there were stacks of World Bible School papers and mail. WBS is an international Bible study course used by many churches and individuals to teach the Gospel to people living in other countries. Harold had students from all over the continent of Africa and a select number from the Russian Federation. There must have been 500 or more letters in a mound unopened on his left and at least that number on his right to which he had already responded. A Bible and test-grading key rested in Harold's lap. I watched as he carefully opened mail and thoroughly read the students' answers to the Bible study questionnaires. With each new study he sent out, he included a personal note of encouragement. This was in fact a remarkable man.

It is a clear biblical principal that through serving God, no matter the circumstances, Christian hearts are uplifted (James 4:10). Is it not ironic that the first century churches had so little possessions and yet did so much for the cause of Christ (Acts 8:4) while we in the twenty-first century have so much and do so little? Look at Harold. This is a man who can barely lift himself out of his chair yet he bears the yoke of the Lord (Matthew 11:28-30). He learned happiness by doing for others -- by sending the good saving news of the Gospel into foreign fields. "Blessed are the peacemakers," Jesus said, "for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). Blessings promote or contribute to our happiness, well-being, or prosperity. Harold was making peace between souls and their Maker.

Twice a week he left his apartment with the help of a minister. He worshipped God on Sunday and he hobbled into the Post Office on Tuesday. Harold was happy. Are you?

Donny Weimar

Published in The Old Paths Archive