My family has a way of stretching out what's known as a seasonal greeting. At the end of the midnight countdown, wherever we are, we all join in to imitate my father. Thirty years ago, we began doing it in his memory — emphasizing that first syllable like a bleat from a bugle horn:
Then dramatically, emphatically, holding our breaths — until the rest just has to come rushing out.
“…-PY New Year!”
Sometimes happy sounds like something whimsical, wish-ful and wistful, because happy sounds elusive. It’s had various meanings through history, from a luck-based status (as in happenstance), to drunkenness, to impulse and obsession (i.e. gadget-happy).
Sometimes the commercial energy of our economy’s retail sector at this time of year can prompt a misplaced celebration of the gimmes. And the gimmes represent the most familiar connotation for happy —having what you want.
When we begin to learn about joy as revealed in Scripture, we often start by contrasting it to being happy. We think of being happy as something fleeting, based on whim. We come to know that joy is something else. That joy is something you can have, and be strengthened by, even when times are not happy — times of grief or sorrow.
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fair, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17, 18 KJV
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b KJV
There’s more, and it comes rushing out from the meaningful words of Scripture, which offer more meaning for happy.
When the Psalms and Proverbs speak of being blessed, their Hebrew wording includes esher, or ashar.Ashar means “to go straight, make progress, be on the level, to lead on, to be made right, and to be made happy.” (http://www.beithashem.org/SeedsOfFaith/June2002a.php)
Esher is the noun, defined as blessedness and/or happiness. Here we can find a conjunction of meaning.
We discover in the Bible a definition for happy that is rooted in blessed, in language that is based on the Giver instead of the gimmes. Picture if you will a little kid, who seems happy because cotton candy is now in hand. That’s a gimme image. Now step back a bit for a different scene: a little kid already delighted in anticipation of the parent buying it. That’s a Giver image, of the happiness in having a Father who you trust to give you good things.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.James 3:17 NIV
He’s a Giver of good things.
Before the countdown begins, our family has another tradition, led by my mother. The TV and its party sounds are silenced, and whoever can kneels in prayer. We take turns thanking Him aloud for the great things He’s done. We ask Him to tend what is on our minds and in our heart. We entrust him with the days to come.
HAP………py new year! It’s really more than a greeting. It’s a blessing, emphatically reminding all who have ears to hear that happiness truly awaits. It’s in the fullness of that conjunction of meaningbetween blessed and happy. It’s like a bleat from a bugle horn, ultimately sounding praise for God who dramatically has revealed His goodness to us throughout all time.
For more on a happy new year, turn to:
1 Kings 10:8Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
Job 5:17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
Psalms 144:5Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
Psalms 146:5Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
Proverbs 3:13, 18Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
Proverbs 16:20He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
Proverbs 28:14Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
Proverbs 29:18Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
James 5:11Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
1 Peter 3:14But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
1 Peter 4:14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.