By Dr. Harold Sala

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in His God.  Daniel 6:23

“Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings,” Betsie ten Boom told her sister in Ravensbruk Concentration Camp, “it’s something we make inside ourselves.”  Shortly after that, Betsie died.  The two sisters had never married.  Corrie, the older of the two, was a watchmaker by trade; and the entire family, staunch Dutch Reformed Christians, were involved in the resistance movement in World War 2.

CORRIE TEN BOOM (1892 – 1983) HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR RAVENSBRUCK CONCENTRATION CAMP HER AUTOBIOGRAPHY–“THE HIDING PLACE” (1971)

CORRIE TEN BOOM (1892 – 1983)
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
RAVENSBRUCK CONCENTRATION CAMP
HER AUTOBIOGRAPHY–“THE HIDING PLACE” (1971)

Feeling that the Jews were God’s chosen people, the little family risked their lives saving Jews.  Taking them into their small apartment over the watch shop, they would dye their hair, give them a change of clothes, and send them on their way with new documents, helping hundreds elude the Gestapo.  Hanging in the window of the watch shop was a Tissot sign, a small triangular advertisement for a Swiss watch.  Unfriendly neighbors eventually noticed a connection between the appearance of the sign in the window and the stream of visitors to the shop who left looking different.  And they reported them.

The aged father and both sisters were arrested. Their father died soon after, and Betsie died of starvation only a few days before both she and Corrie were to have been executed. Time doesn’t allow my describing the terrible inhumane conditions of Ravensbruk, where women were used for hideous experiments too dark to even mention.  But it was starvation and brutality that took the major toll.

Now knowing the horrible conditions under which she said those words, focus on what she said: “Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings…. It’s something we make inside ourselves.”

Was she right?  Can you find happiness or make it, regardless of where you are or how rough may be your road?  Peter Marshall, the one-time Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, would have agreed.  He wrote, “I believe that God wants us to be happy–but it is not a matter of our right, but of His love and mercy.”  He would have agreed that it comes through a God-connection and produces a contentment which isn’t dependent on your surroundings.

Someone once said that you are about as happy as you choose to be.  It’s not a goal which you reach provided you achieve certain things, or you have certain things, or you can buy certain things.  It deals with your inner disposition and the peace and tranquility that come because you are right with God and your fellow man.

What Betsie ten Boom described is akin to an inner joy which is impervious to adverse circumstances.  The Bible calls it “the fruit of the Spirit,” meaning it comes through the indwelling presence of God, the Holy Spirit.

Happiness is not a right to which you are entitled, believed C. S. Lewis. In the last article that came from the pen of this great scholar he wrote, “A right to happiness doesn’t make much more sense than a right to be six feet tall, or to have a millionaire for a father, or to get good weather whenever you want to have a picnic.”

How do you make happiness within? If you dissociate happiness from having and can confine it to the realm of being, you then understand that it is a decision, a choice, an attitude, not an acquisition.

You decide that you will be content now, not in the future, and chose to act instead of responding to your circumstances.

Should you ever be in Amsterdam, take the 20-minute ride from Central Station to Haarlem, where the ten Booms lived, and visit their little clock shop and the hiding place in the attic, and ask yourself, “Have I found the happiness that these two Dutch Christians found?”  Remember, Betsie said you make it inside your heart.

Resource reading: Daniel 6