As we turn to a new year, people are hoping for a better tomorrow, wishing one another Happy New Year. Some put money jars out before midnight, some read fortunes, some simply toast to new beginnings. Is there a right way, a better way, to enter into a new calendar year? What if we decide that we should stop wishing for one another’s happiness?
As a parent, I want my children to be happy of course, but more than that, I wish and pray for their salvation. Misery in this world is nothing compared to the torture and misery in the next if we don’t come into Heaven. While I strive in this world to make sure they’re fed, clothed, and well, I spend more energy teaching (Proverbs 22:6) and praying so they know God and have a strong foundation in faith and morals.
Think of the rich man (Lk 16:19-31) who had everything. He was certainly happy in life, living with all he could ever want and truly wanting for nothing. His belly was full and his scraps were many. Still, he didn’t do anything for the poor man at his door. The poor man, Lazarus, suffered greatly with no home, little clothing, poor health, and little to no food each day. When they each died, Lazarus went to heaven, having suffered so much on Earth. The Lord took pity on him and angels carried him away to paradise. The rich man, however, went into the abyss. He begged and pleaded, not understanding, but the Lord said his [the rich man’s] choices were already man. He denied God in life by not sharing what he had. The rich man had his reward on Earth while Lazarus had none. Now the rich man would suffer.
We could get into debate about the details but the point is clear: this life is not about living happily but it’s for growing in a way to prepare our souls for Heaven (James 1:2-4). Here’s another analogy using school. We suffer through education in order to gain higher knowledge. Those who choose higher education (college, post grad school, etc.) must suffer even more. We don’t get a degree by playing dodgeball for 6 hours a day. We need to suffer through and work hard through all the required subjects, even those we may dislike.
If this life is about preparing our souls for the next, then let’s start praying for blessings instead of just happiness. Truly, our joy should be in the Lord, and if we receive His blessings, we will achieve that. The simplest of saints lived in joy for they had the joy of the Lord. Instead of wanting a person to get whatever they want because it makes one happy, let’s pray for the Lord’s Will to be done on a person, for that person to be blessed, and for that person to come to know His grace and mercy which will truly grant one joy.
That said, polite society can still, of course, say the phrase. So, as we approach the end of 2021, I wish you all a Happy New Year.