You can't miss them. ''Happy hour'' signs hang in front of restaurants and bars, inviting you to drop in for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the early evening.
But according to a comment I heard on television recently, those happy hours are, for many, the saddest time of the day. Why? Because so many of those who drop in are people who dread going home to lonely apartments, strained marriages , undisciplined children. So they attempt to fortify themselves with a few drinks in order to face the evening ahead.
That word ''fortify'' reminds me of the Bible story of young David. When facing his foe - the Philistine giant, Goliath - David fortified himself with faith in God. ''The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion,'' he said to Saul, ''and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.'' n1
n1 I Samuel 17:37.
Sometimes when we've let personal problems accumulate, they loom over us as menacingly as a Goliath. Instead of running to meet them head-on with faith and courage, as David did, perhaps we postpone dealing with them, or search for someone who'll solve our problems for us. And, perhaps we lose our peace and joy.
But it's possible to remain happy even while facing a serious problem. Many have learned, through harsh experiences, that every hour can be a happy one!
Christian Science shows that happiness is not really the by-product of circumstances or of our being with certain people. Certainly it can't be manufactured out of alcohol or drugs. Happiness, in its truest sense, is the product of spirituality, of a Christlike state of consciousness. It's the outcome of gratitude and kindness and integrity, actively expressed.
Referring to God, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping , if sought in Soul. Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal man. We cannot circumscribe happiness within the limits of personal sense. The senses confer no real enjoyment.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 60-61.
Our God-given spiritual sense enables us to feel and experience the happiness that Soul imparts - to discern ''the beauty of holiness,'' n3 the joy of spiritual being, the harmony and perfection of God's spiritual creation. This Soul-sense is quite the opposite of the physical senses of sight and hearing, of taste and touch and smell.
n3 Psalms 29:2.
The physical senses convey a strictly material and limited view of life. They would convince us that we're vulnerable mortals, governed by circumstances, living in an unpredictable physical universe. But when we let our spiritual sense tell us of God's presence, His goodness, His love for man, we can remain at peace and prove that harmony is the actual, spiritual fact, no matter what the circumstances appear to be.
This is not a form of escapism, and it goes beyond what is popularly called ''positive thinking.'' It's spiritual knowing - thought solidly based on an understanding of the nature of God, Spirit, and His spiritual creation, including His image, man. It's prayer.
Prayer actually regenerates us so that we find more of our spiritual nature coming forth. Difficulties begin, then, to dissolve. Instead of responding to the demands of our families with self-pity or self-will, we're more apt to express patience and thoughtfulness. In turn, we may discover that our loved ones are responding to our kindness by being more considerate of us and of others as well.
Even if we have no family waiting at home for us, our lives need not be lonely. Friends, neighbors, co-workers, can be uplifted by our higher view of existence. On one occasion Christ Jesus promised, ''Your joy no man taketh from you.'' n4
n4 John 16:22.
Many choose to believe that genuine happiness is impossible to attain - and maintain - in today's world. But the Christ, the healing, redeeming power of God that the Master embodied, is still with us, regenerating us, rejuvenating us. No one is shut out from the divine goodness of God. To find it, though, we must turn to Him and seek the redeeming Christ with all our heart. Then every hour of our lives will become a happy hour. DAILY BIBLE VERSE I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:18