As Christians, it’s okay for us to be happy. In fact, we should be happy.
Jesus is alive, He has conquered the grave, He has united us with Himself, and though in this world we will have trouble and tribulation, Jesus commands us to be of good cheer (to “take heart”), for He has overcome the world.
Why So Sad?
Within our stream of Christianity, there has been a bit of a reaction (a pendulum-swing, if you will) against the shallow, fake, overly-contrived emotional happiness of the contemporary church. As with most pendulum swings, however, we’ve over-swung—rejecting the idea of that happiness has a place in the Christian life at all.
As Christians, we stand and affirm the truth that God is good. We sing that “God is good… all of the time!” We affirm and believe that Jesus died for our sins, that He reconciled us with God, that He rose from the grave, that we are united with Him in His resurrection, that He has ascended back to heaven, and is preparing a place for us.
We affirm and talk about and re-iterate that the gospel is “good news.” And yet often times we don’t live as if we’ve heard any good news in weeks.
We worship without smiling. We pray for change but not contentment. We talk openly about our sin and our struggles but not our victory or our hope. We pray for our needs, but don’t bask in His present provision. We confess but we don’t adore. We pray but we don’t praise.
Wrestling for Contentment
It’s easy to be sad. It’s easy to be discouraged and to point out everything that is wrong that needs to be fixed. Being a critic or a cynic doesn't take much work. We have to wrestle for contentment. We have to wrestle for happiness.
This is a wrestling match that is worth winning.
Such wrestling and striving doesn’t downplay how hard life can be. It doesn’t downplay the brokenness and fallenness that we live in. It doesn’t downplay suffering or pain or loss or depression. And at the same time it doesn’t elevate happiness as the greatest good thereby negating any benefit that suffering has in this life.
Instead, it should lead us to understand what Paul meant when he said in 2 Corinthians 6:10 that we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing… having nothing, yet possessing everything.” In some ways, it’s a perspective change. A change to seeing our lives the way God sees them. Enveloped in His glorious grace; encapsulated within in His sovereign and glorious plan.
Beginning Easter Sunday morning and running for two weeks post-Easter, we'll be taking some time as a church to look at what it means to wrestle like this in a series we've titled, Happy: Wrestling for Contentment in Light of the Resurrection.
My prayer is that this series would be transformational corrective to our view of happiness as Christians.