“Right now, in this moment, I just thank you for my life and all the good gifts in it. You are so good to me and I am HAPPY (yes, I said it…please don’t strike me down) and I am grateful.” -me, from a recent journal entry
Why did I write that? Why do I feel that way: that God will actually be mad at me if I admit to being happy?
I don’t know about you, but I feel like happy is a four-letter word to some Christians, me included. I’m super uncomfortable with the concept.
We are commanded in Scripture to be grateful. And I am. I so totally am. And not just when things are going my way either. I’ve come to a place of maturity in my walk with Christ that I do believe I exhibit deep gratitude even in the midst of horrible circumstances.
We are commanded in Scripture to be content. I’m not great at this one, but I am definitely making strides.
We are commanded in Scripture to be joyful. Joy is different from happiness. Joy is inward, unmoving. Happiness has the word happen as its root. In other words, what happens to you. In other words, circumstantially. Joy you can and should choose no matter what happens to you. Happiness comes to you when things are bright and steady and fun.
But I have long held to the belief that nowhere in Scripture does it command us to be happy. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve told myself that the word happy doesn’t even show up in the Bible (sort of like the concept of “being in love” so therefore it was okay if it never happened to me).
And I would say things like, “God doesn’t want us to be happy; he wants us to be holy.” Which I do still stand behind as I think God desires our holiness above our happiness, and yet…
In doing a word search of happy, I came upon the following:
Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” –Genesis 30:13
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.- Psalm 68:3
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. –Proverbs 15:13
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. –James 5:13
So, apparently, the concept of happiness is something addressed by God. In fact, it is an emotion created by our Creator for us; it is not just a cultural concept that I need to fear feeling.
And my response to my happiness in my journal was appropriate (minus the fear of being stricken down, of course): praise and gratitude to God for bringing me to this sweet season.
So now I am changing my tune. Though I do not believe happiness is something to be sought at all costs – I still believe following after Christ and seeking his will and our transformation and bringing redemption to this world should be our primary aims – however, if along the way, I catch glimpses of happiness, or even, Lord-willing, nice long stretches of it, I will not be afraid of it.
But I will remind myself of this:
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. –Ecclesiastes 7:14
All comes from the hand of God. And all for my benefit, even when it doesn’t feel like it. And the appropriate response for both the good and the supposed bad: a grateful, yielded heart, ready to receive whatever God has for me.
How do you handle happy?
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Gratitude, exercised consistently, produces joy
I like this post, because we do tend to struggle with happiness. WHY??? I’ve asked myself that a lot lately. I think sometimes we get confused about how we measure happiness. Do we feel compelled to hop on line and pursue a relationship because we think that is what we need to be happy? Do we fill our days with too many tasks – good, helpful, skill-building, life-giving activities hoping that those will make us happy? Or do we rest in the finished work of Christ alone and trust Him to guide our path through life? Asking the same questions. Observing others around me and drawing my own conclusions. We are all wise to consider both the question and the answer.