Where’s your happy place?
The beach on a warm summer day? A quiet spot at the coffeeshop where you can read uninterrupted? A party where the conversation and food are flowing?
The Washington Post recently analyzed some data about where people are most happy, and the answer may surprise you.
In a story that looked at “the happiest, least stressful, most meaningful jobs in America,” the paper crunched some numbers about jobs, but then ran the numbers again based on where those jobs are performed to determine the places that people think are the happiest, the ones filled with the most meaning.
The No. 1 place? Your place of worship, which nabbed a 5.2 out of a possible 6 points for happiness, a 5.5 out of 6 for meaningfulness and a 0.7 out of 6 for stressfulness. Your workplace ranked second-to-last. School was just a little higher than work.
In a culture where happiness and meaning are often equated with our jobs or our education, this is welcome news. Because we all seem to know, from experience, that those two places, while important, often come up short in bringing us lasting happiness.
But our place of worship? Now, that’s a place that can bring true meaning and happiness. The Heidelberg Catechism gets at this when it tells us our “chief end” is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” And in what place can we enjoy God unlike any other place on earth but our place of worship? There, we sing lasting truths, we hear the best news ever, we feast on and participate in the sacraments, we sense the unity of our faith and we encourage one another by sharing our burdens.
The writers of the Psalms didn’t need a newspaper analysis to know that the place where worship happens is the most meaningful place on earth. Consider the first two lines of Psalm 84: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
How about you? Is your soul yearning to gather together in worship?
I hope so, because there is real power when we sing and pray and listen and worship together. Even the simplicity of being in the same room with fellow Christ-followers can be a great encouragement as we see that we are not alone, especially when you’ve faced a week where the opposite appeared true. Who knows what your presence next to someone else could mean? We need each other to show up as we stand shoulder to shoulder in worship.
So if you’re longing for some happiness and some meaning, rediscover, in the words of the Psalmist, the loveliness of corporate worship. And as you do, long for it, desire it, eagerly anticipate it. The living God will certainly meet us there.