The Boringly Successful and Happy Life (Psalm 128)

It seems that every day I hear of another story, either in the news or within the relatively small circle of people with whom I’ve been familiar over six decades, of someone who has given up on life – even done something desperate.

What is the secret to a happy and contented life?

Most people seem to believe this to be an elusive goal that can only be achieved through extraordinary accomplishment and accumulation of worldly gain. Such gain could possibly accompany happiness as a byproduct, but it is never the source of the contentment.

Though the old hymn “Trust and Obey” is a trite little ditty, it actually does sum up the essence of what it takes to experience a successive life of contentment – and that is to trust and obey, for there’s no other way.

That is essentially what this Psalm taught – to the adults who would sing it on the pilgrimage roads toward Jerusalem, within the ears of younger generations travelling along.

Here is a quick summary of Psalm 128 today:  Even in an imperfect world, the general pattern of life is that those who trust in God and keep his commandments find the Lord’s provision to be sufficient through their work; and their home life is largely blessed through several generations that in turn are a blessing to the nation and others around them.

Though there have been a few Buchman renegades over the years, this general truth has proven itself for as many generations as I can trace it back to the Swiss Reformation, and I believe I am living to see it pass on to grandchildren – who are a great blessing and lots of joy.

But let me talk about another family of my lifelong acquaintance. Among my parents’ best friends was a couple who were about the same age. The husband was an insurance agent and the wife the mother of six children. They were faithful in serving in the church on a weekly basis and shared their faith with their children. Though there were a few circuitous routes of life of the six kids (the youngest being my age), they all eventually (and continue each one to this day) to live lives of service: a pastor, a Christian college president, directors of several ministries including World Vision, Christian school educators, etc. At the time of the deaths of this couple a few years ago, every last child, grand child and beyond … they all knew the Lord.

There are no guarantees that this will work perfectly for every family, but there is a principle that a long, long, consistent life of trust and obedience largely yields personal and family fruit of this sort. It’s not complicated actually. It just requires the work of yielding to the Spirit rather than the flesh. No tricks. No gimmicks, no hidden secrets for success. Just do it!

The blessing at the end of a “boring” life of faithfulness is worth it all. Let’s make generations of people like this at TSF! That is our church vision.

Psalm 128

A song of ascents.

1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord.

5 May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
6 May you live to see your children’s children—peace be on Israel.