Me: “I’m actually happy right now!”
Life: “LOL. Hold on a second.”
If God had a “Happy Stand,” we’d all be in line. Life is hard, many of us get dealt hands hard to play. When I pay honest attention to my misery, it usually boils down to a failed “happy” dose of some sort. Food that makes me happy for a while makes me depressed or anxious later. Movies that distract me from my misery a while wake me in tears at night. A million little failures of my quest for the holy grail of “happy.”
We all want “Hap Hap Happy.” But happy ain’t jack. Because there is something even better. Holy. Happy can actually keep us from holy. And there’s a way to have both.
When was the last time you turned down a Godly plan to go “have fun” that you ended up with anything but a headache or guilty conscience?
The Bible does use two words: “happy” and “joy.” Uses “joy” way more. Tells how JOY is a “fruit of the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22). Says joy is a “gift from God, our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) That it is to make our joy full that Jesus came. (John 15:11) Sure, God wants to bless us, wants us to be happy. But when we are not, He has an even more powerful gift: Joy.
For the most part, “Happy” makes our five senses feel good: smell tacos, see porn, touch quilting fabrics, hear rock music, taste chocolate. Even a “buzz” with drugs that overruns all five and captures your very brain, then your soul.
There are theological studies on both sides of Happy vs Joy all over the internet. So to prove it to YOURSELF, do this experiment:
Try to make yourself HAPPY today by buying stuff you don’t need or taking drugs you know are killing you or watching TV that numbs your brain. Go ahead. Do it. THEN do something GOD calls us to do. Help someone who needs help. Give to someone who needs what you have. Love someone who is broken and hard to love. Even if you yourself never received these things exactly how you wanted and needed. You can still choose to reach out to give what you never got.
Then you will have your answer. Your own, private, irrefutable answer.
You weren’t going to believe anyone else anyway.
James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.”
Whaaaat?!?! I don’t think so. Why would we?
He goes on: “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Perfect and complete would work. Yes, I’d like that.
All we have to do is choose. Give what we never got.
Ouch. Kinda hard.
Now there’s some guts. There’s some brave. There’s a rebel WITH a cause.
Want some temporary buzz from “stuff” or “circumstances” or something holy that lasts forever and makes you “perfect?”
He won’t make you. You can choose the buzz. God will still like you.
But He can’t bless you for it. That little buzz will burn up at the Bridge. Part of the fallen Poo that cannot EXIST where He is. Just on the bottom of your shoe.
We can be ungrateful, entitled, ignorant children.
Or wise and willing children, proud to limp towards God’s Bridge instead of away from it.
We suffer and just want the suffering to STOP. So we put the quest for “happy “on like a Band-Aid. Mainly because the world taught us to be that way. The “world” that fell from grace in prehistoric times. And the “flesh” that we were born with, wanting what it wants when it wants it.
And don’t forget the devil, who…how shall I say it? Misery loves company. He and his minions missed God’s best and have no second chance. So nuttin’ to do to pass the eons but torture those of us who might still make it. Who DO have second chances.
Because God is a God not just of second chances, but tenth and thousandth and billionth chances. He’s our ideal daddy, training our souls to live with Him forever. Not a worldly daddy training us to make money, drink beer, buy hot cars and entertain ourselves to be happy.
And know this: JOY will last FOREVER. While those fleeting “happy” spells are doomed. Ask any addict.
WHAT IF I FIND OUT when I get there, that all this suffering is what washed out the meanness and worldliness that would have separated me from God? Find out it was my very suffering that formed my heart so that it COULD see God? What if my suffering is making me holy? And I will weep for JOY forever that I was shaped by it? What if?
But “the world” doesn’t see it that way, does it? The fallen world. We get our ideas about family life from the Jerry Springer Show, our introduction to the God-given gift of sexuality from porn, and our yardstick of happiness by what advertisements are selling us.
There’s worse too: websites for pedophiles, violent perverted song lyrics, raunchy secular humanism for lunch, euthanasia for dinner, all pumped out in TV, radio, internet, cell phone apps, tweets, and texts. Pounding our eyes and ears and minds 24/7 with everything vile the world has to offer. Our legacy from Adam and Eve.
It’s a filthy place.
Or a beautiful place.
Friends and families still gather to eat, pray, love, play, help each other through. Trees still ruffle the horizon, dapple the sunlight like angels. God still speaks to hearts that open to Him, same as thousands of years ago. Babies still squeeze our hearts, puppies make our days.
And love is still the most powerful force in the universe.
You can choose. Your soul is the only thing you have complete control over. Your free will is so sacred, even God will not usurp it. You can choose. Live in the fallen world just like a pig in his sty; or live above your circumstances in a place made holy by God’s grace and your faith. Not always easy, but the only battle worth fighting.
If you can’t quite bring yourself to believe it yet, do that experiment one more time. Give someone else the love you so desperately wanted for yourself and never got. Then vote. JOY? Or new shoes, quick toke, nasty note?
“Show, Don’t Tell,” baby. Show Don’t Tell.
A picture really is worth a thousand words.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. James 1:2
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Galatians 5:22
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. I Peter 1:8
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (Jesus) John 15:11