Satisfied and Happy

There is a difference between being happy (as in joyful) and being satisfied. I’m satisfied when I’ve worked in the yard and it looks good after my efforts. I’m happy when a hummingbird appears seemingly out of nowhere and enjoys the nectar in my yard. I’m satisfied when my team wins. I’m happy when my child or a child I’ve worked with takes what she’s been learning and uses it well in the right moment, a combination of effort and grace. I’m satisfied when I have enough and am capable enough. I’m happy when I realize the grace and salvation that mean I don’t have to be it all or do it all.

My 8th grade son tells me his peer was stressed all week about making the academic challenge team. Why, I asked. Because his brother had been on it and his brother went on to make a perfect score on the SAT and is now at a high-profile university on a full scholarship. Fortunately, the child made the team. I wonder if he was satisfied or happy. I wonder if he thinks his success in life will be based on how he compares with his brother (or whoever his perceived competition at that point is) or on some combination of the satisfaction that comes with effort and the peace that comes by recognizing how much of life’s “success” is grace.

Psalm 146 (The Well’s passage for Sunday) describes the happy as “those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God” (verse 5). It then reminds us that God acts on behalf of those in need. The happy, according to the psalm, aren’t the ones who have everything or can accomplish anything, but who realize their dependence on God. Mark 7:24-37, which will be read in the sanctuary, shows us people in need who, thanks to Jesus, are made happy. 

As you reflect on these passages and your life, consider what satisfies you and what makes you truly happy.