Sometime last year I remember reading a list. A handful of ways to improve or increase personal happiness. What is most likely to increase happiness? Among the ability to make personal autonomous choices and the necessity of human touch was this: the looking for something to be thankful for.
I wish I could remember the article and all of the points. I can't. But I specifically remember that the listing of what led to happiness made a distinction between having to find something to be thankful for and the looking of something to be thankful for. The actual finding wasn't as important as the looking. It was the act of looking that brought the happiness, not the findings.
This speaks of expectancy to me.
What do you expect?
To find the good or find the bad?
King David was familiar with bad news. He crested on high moments of battle victory, divine intervention, God's rich favor, passionate moments of praise and yet his life was filled with many lows. He faced vast armies, warred against wild beasts, and then fled from his own son, fled from kings, imprisoned, endured the Lord's discipline, and sometimes was laid low and crushed beneath the weight of his own sin. His life was filled with both gloriously good moments lived out in the presence of a God who he most loved and yet included moments of deep fear, angst, sorrow, contrition, and spiritual wrestling plainly and publicly recorded in the Psalms.
I can't pick a favorite Psalm. Too many.
Psalm 27 is one to engrave deeply into the crevices of a heart. To speak to quiet a soul.
The opening finds David saying He won't fear though war breaks out against Him.
He stresses the importance of His chief desire,
"One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock."
The end of Psalm 27 finds David with an expectant heart,
"I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord."
David is sure. He's absolutely positive that He will see the goodness of the Lord in this life. In the land of the living. On this soil. On this earth.
He is repeating a theme found four Psalms before in Psalm 23.
David says with surety,
"Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
He is persuaded that good is here. Goodness and love. Other translations say mercy. That He will see them and that they are following Him. Like companions sticking fast throughout the duration of His high and low and every where in between man after God's own heart life. They chase after Him. He can't escape the goodness and mercy of God.
What does this expectancy enable Him to do?
To Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart.
Like the expectant mother who births life, the heart expecting to find God's goodness births courage and a heart big enough to wait. To wait on the sure goodness of a God who only gives us the best because He gave us Himself. And the giving of Jesus Himself as the God with us is always the gift we most need. The king who can have whatever He wants can't match the gift of the presence of God. He most wants that. He expects to find good because He has found God.
Do you expect to find good? Sometimes it's so hard to expect good when life feels like walking across hot pavement and being given handfuls of gravel, hardly gifts. Yet no life is without piercing pain and deep disappointment. We all share it.
Try looking for the good. Just look. Dare to expect to find it. Maybe the list is right? Maybe that courageous expectancy, that holy hope of finding good because we have a good God will not only enlarge our hearts, keep them soft, but also make us happier...