Friday, March 27, 2015

Happy

There’s a song on the radio that I really like. It’s not a Christian song, or even really a very meaningful one on the surface. It’s peppy and upbeat, and to be honest, it lightens my mood when I hear it. It’s called “Happy,” and as I listened to it the other day, I was thinking of my own happiness (or lack thereof) and the reasons for it. I began to muse on why I’m happy, and also on why there are times when I’m not. Let me share with you some of the lyrics to this song: 

Here come bad news talking this and that,
Well, give me all you got, and don't hold it back,
Well, I should probably warn you I'll be just fine,
No offense to you, don't waste your time
Here's why
Because I'm happy…
Now let me say right up front, that I don't believe in putting on a happy face and faking it. There are times when we should express our sadness. The death of a loved one, and other times of serious loss or heartache will certainly take us down for a time. I would never encourage anyone to fake it when they are grieving or experiencing traumatic circumstances. With those exceptions though, Christians should be some of the happiest people on earth. Regardless of tough days or difficult circumstances, we should be happy because we have Christ. We have eternity to look forward to! We have the love of Christ in our hearts, and the blessed assurance that Jesus is ours forever. Psalm 32:1 says,
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” 

Would you say that blessed people are happy people? It seems logical, doesn't it? But maybe you’re thinking the same thing I was thinking as I mused over this: If this is the case, then why are there so many unhappy Christians? Why am I, a professing Christian, so often unhappy? After meditating on Psalm 32 for a while, I have come to a couple of conclusions. First, and I'll speak for myself here, I don't confess my sins. 
"When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer (vs. 3&4)."

Unconfessed sin can certainly dry up our vitality and make us unhappy. Much of the sin in my heart is related to my response to my physical pain. My default response seems to be self-pity. I’m not saying I indulge or feed those feelings 100% of the time. I am saying that, when something hurts, I automatically feel sorry for myself. I don't always speak and act out of those feelings, but I do feel them. What I ought to do is go immediately to the Lord in prayer, confessing the sins of self-focus, ingratitude, discontentment and all the other building blocks of self-pity. I am getting better at this, and I hope you are, too. You and I must train our minds to use the pain as a cue to pray, and to receive His forgiveness and help. 
Second, I often fail to put my thoughts through the filter of Scripture. Philippians 4:8 gives us just the right tool for judging whether our thoughts will lead us to a happy place:
“Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” 
Most of my thoughts don’t get past the first word in that filter, true. My fearful thoughts of the future are not true. Only God knows how the rest of my days will play out. My hopeless thoughts are not true: My hope is in Christ, not my circumstances, so I always have hope. My “I can't” thoughts are not true, either: I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me (v. 13). Once I see that my thoughts don't pass the test of truth, it's pretty clear that they don't pass the rest of the standards for what I should think on, either. It is vital that you and I learn to think biblically about our circumstances. If we don't, we will never be happy in Christ.

The artist who sings this song says that happiness is the truth, and I agree! Happiness is the truth of the Gospel. Happiness comes when we line up our thinking with that truth—when we believe that our trials are, as Paul says, light and momentary, and that their purpose is to prepare for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:16-17)! Do you believe this, my friend? Are you a happy Christian? If not, I hope you will take the time to pray, meditate on some of the Scriptures I've mentioned, and really examine your heart in this area.

Here’s a link to the song
 on YouTube. Clap along if you know what happiness is to you!