I just trashed a few paragraphs on my first attempt to write my #happiness2016 blog. I made a feisty case on why God not only desires our happiness but gave us many gifts in this world to enjoy and feel the happiness of. I’ve never quite bought into the idea that God isn’t interested in our happiness, only our holiness. I look at my own children and have to believe I get a small but powerful taste of God wanting both and making a way for both…and that the idea of joy and happiness shouldn’t be compared but meshed together.
Several years ago, I was enlightened with the beauty of paradox and resting in the tension of what appears to be polar opposites in scripture, but indeed, come together, leaving us dependent on a spirit-filled life in order to love the way Jesus does. I just can’t rely on my own understanding anymore. I just can’t stomach the idea of being puffed up with knowledge but lacking in genuine love and concern.
So, out of love and concern, I pray this short blog will inspire you to embrace the gift of happiness God makes no excuses about giving.
At the beginning of every year I pray for a word to focus on and in 2016, it was happiness. I love to be aware of God’s leading in this and then see Him confirm it in various ways. When happiness came to mind, it felt risky so I decided that to own the word for 2016, I needed to understand it more. To no surprise, I stumbled across a book called Happiness by Randy Alcorn. The book is long and what I would consider an exhaustive study on happiness. Out of everything I could quote and the numerous scriptures I could reference, I’m choosing a portion that sums up why I believe happiness is available to everyone:
If we realize we’re utterly undeserving, suddenly the world comes alive. Of course the curse is hard but instead of whining about everything that goes wrong, we’re thrilled at God’s many kindnesses, and our hearts overflow with thanks that we who deserve nothing but judgement, death, and Hell are given deliverance, grace, and eternal life.
People who receive a paycheck for services rendered can’t be as grateful as those who are given a pardon they know they don’t merit. Jesus said of the woman who gratefully poured oil on HIs feet, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47
My summation for why we don’t have to decide between happiness and holiness is that there is no happiness without holiness. There might be bursts of emotion that feel good but happiness is deeply rooted into the fabric of God’s heart and intention when we created mankind to live in unity with Him. The capacity to know happiness is a gift…a gift to us and Him. We serve a happy God who made a way for our happiness.
2016 was certainly a year my eyes were more fully opened to things that make my heart explode with happy thoughts, happy feelings and happy hopes. I smiled more, felt more, cried more, (If that’s possible) desired more, laughed more, dreamed more and grieved with others more. It all came together in this big ball of emotions, intertwined and waiting for the day our full redemption of happiness and holiness is complete.
Where does that leave pain, selflessness and sin and sorrow and yuck? In the same place it will always be until we go to Jesus or He comes to us…real but fading. Real but not more powerful than the gifts of happiness God graciously gives us for the here and now…
#happiness2016 was a blessed year and now I’m asking for my 2017 word with great anticipation. Do you have a word for 2017? I would love to hear what it is!!