The Lenten Musings
Read: Mathew 6: 25-34
It is always a pleasure to meet people who are happy. People who radiate happiness and sense of positive outlook in their life. The news agency CNN released today a very unique news items on their column. In which states or cities do you find the happiest people?. The study has been done by Twitter, based on about 10 million geotagged tweets that people did through Twitter in 2011. Based on the tweets that people send out from the city that they lived in, Twitter made a study to map out the mood of the Americans living in urban areas. What they did was to rank the locations, based on the frequency of positive and negative words using a tool called as Mechanical Turk Language Assessment Word list. This list included about 10,000 words, that have been rated on a scale of 1 to 10 and describes the level of happiness. On the higher end of scale, were words that are positive and happy. Words like LOL, haha, good, nice, sleep, wine, food were some of the words considered as positive and happy while on the lower end of the scale were the negative words. The words that were negative were words like mad, hate, no, boo, smoke, jail and so on. According to this list, rainbow is the happiest of words while earthquake is the saddest. Maine, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Hawaii were the top five happiest states while Louisiana was found to be the saddest state, followed by Mississippi, Maryland, Michigan and Delaware. Another study was also done to determine which was the happiest city along the states. Napa, California, was found to be happiest while Beaumont, Texas was found out to be the most negative and burnt out cities. What Twitter did was just gauging the level of happiness or the state of mind through the use of words for tweeting. Though this study cannot be said as a comprehensive, yet in a unique way it show a person's state of mind and life through the words that he/she uses in their daily life. Yes, we can state that it is the words that we use daily, that actually describe who we are. But can our life be gauged only by the words that we use or is there something more foundational in helping us to a reach a state of mind, where we can call ourselves happy or in a positive frame of mind?.
One of the most beautiful and profound passages in the Bible is the sermon on the mount. In Mathew 5, 6, and 7, we find some of the most profound teaching by Jesus Christ about life and how one can cultivate a state of happiness, peace and contentment. In Mathew 6: 25-34, you find some eternal truths that are sometime very difficult to understand, or comprehend. For many who read this particular passage, they tend to say that what Jesus taught seems to be not practical at all. Jesus tells his disciples to focus on two aspects in life. One is external while the other is internal. External are those daily sights that we see but we don't notice it, as we feel they are not very important or are taken for granted. Sights like birds of the air, lilies or flowers or grass in the field[ Mat 6: 26-29]. Though considered very trivial or unimportant. Jesus says when you look at these unimportant elements in the creation, one finds how wonderfully God has been taking care of them and how they have been created in a unique ways to lend beauty to creation and glory and honour to the Creator. Then He also tells us to look internally [Mat 6: 33]. To look internally means to assess what is the objective and goal in our life. Here Jesus teaches us that we need to first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all those things that God feels that are needed for our life and living will be added unto you. Focus on life is not on making our life and living luxurious but focusing on doing the will of God in our life. When life's purpose is to God's will, God takes care of the needs of his children. It is this internal and external perception, that truly defines our life and living. In a world, where the focus of life is to increase one financial and materialistic goals, Jesus teaches us the life becomes blessed when life is seen as an avenue of doing God's will and seeking to be co workers with God in the extension of His Kingdom on earth. Twitter found out that happiness is a state of mind through the description of the word that one uses in one's life, but as a Christian, let us move beyond the realm of words to a realm of faith perception and living, where one' focus of life is to totally submit in doing God's will and purpose. That is when we can experience the true state of happiness and contentment. Let lent be a time when we can re dedicate our life in seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness.
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla