Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. — Psalm 100:2
We begin a new year of devotional teachings from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein with a focus on joy, simcha — the joy found in the grateful acceptance and celebration of each day God has given to us. Join us as we explore Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings on the joy found in connecting with God and with others.
We invite you to dig deeper into the Jewish roots of Christianity with Rabbi Eckstein’s monthly teaching series, Limmud. Check it out here.
Everyone is in the pursuit of happiness. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself!” But for most people, happiness is elusive. We say, “I will be happy when . . . .” And then fill in the blank — when I have more money, when I get that promotion, when I get married, when I have kids, when the kids move out, when I retire, and so on and so forth. It’s no wonder so many people feel like they just can’t catch happiness.
In Psalm 100, however, King David let us in on a little secret about happiness. He wrote: “Worship the LORD with gladness . . .” The Jewish sages understand it this way: If you want to be happy, then worship the Lord by serving Him.
Truly, few things bring us greater joy than serving our Creator. When we are serving God, we are focused on what we can give and not on what we are lacking. We focus on what is good in our lives and not what is wrong. When we contribute to God’s world, we feel good about who we are instead of upset about who we could or should have been. When we bring joy to others, we can’t help but light up with joy ourselves!
What’s more, worshiping the Lord is something that we can do anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances. In times of abundance, we can give. In times of scarcity, we can have faith. When things are easy, we can sing out praises to God. And when times are tough, we can call out to Him in prayer. In our homes or in our workplaces – there is always someone to help or share God’s Word. The possibilities are endless.
We can always worship God, which means that we can always be happy. No matter what! We don’t have to pursue happiness. We just have to stop running away from it – and serve the Lord today!
Let’s try this ancient advice and think of how we can serve the Lord today. How can we worship Him throughout the day? Let’s try dedicating just one day – or even better – one week, to give of ourselves
to God, to His children, and to His world. We will be happy we did!
Check out Rabbi Eckstein’s study on Abraham, the father of our faiths, Abraham, in his Limmud (“study” in Hebrew) teaching, “Abraham: The Patriarch of Loving-kindness.”