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If you’re not happy right now, read this


My brother is a kinesiologist

That probably doesn’t excite you unless you know what a kinesiologist does, and you have back or other muscle injuries that crop up from time to time (like I do). If that’s the case, you’re extremely envious of me right now because you know that having a kinesiologist in the family is better than winning the lottery. Money can’t put your SI joint back into place. 

When I went to see him the other day, my appointment was bookended by two other guys. The man before me was a colitis sufferer who has undergone surgery and other treatments and has now reached the point where he can barely eat or go to the bathroom. His doctors have told him the next step is to insert electrical probes down through his nostrils into his stomach to stimulate his system, with him after to wear a battery pack literally around his neck to run the whole thing.

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No, I am not making that up.

The man after me had gone through what he believed would be a normal diskectomy surgery and woke up paralyzed. The doctors told him that it sometimes happens and that he would be fine in a few weeks. It’s been five months and he still can’t walk.

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something,” is the famous line from the movie, “The Princess Bride.” Or, as Jesus, put it, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).

Boy, He sure wasn’t kidding.

I’ve heard Tim Keller say multiple times that down through history, and also today in most countries, people have presumed to suffer and have sorrow. America, said Keller, has been the rare exception where we expect just the opposite — we assume, and really demand, ease and pleasure, and erupt like an angry volcano if things don’t go our way.

This kind of expectation has had an interesting impact in Christian circles. On the one end, you have the health-and-wealth preaching and on the other you have the idea of holiness being linked to, well, being kinda miserable.

With the latter comes the often heard, you-better-listen-up-soldier admonition of: “God doesn’t want you happy, He wants you obedient.”

Well, God certainly does want us to be obedient. But the thing is, being obedient to God’s will — even in the midst of struggles — ultimately leads to happiness. And there are three biblical facts from a famous sermon you can use to remind yourself that God does indeed want you happy.

Just happy about the right things ...

Listen to Jonathan  

It’s a bit comical that a pastor who’s normally associated with fire and brimstone would preach his first sermon on happiness.

Hundreds of years ago, the great Jonathan Edwards belted out Christian Happiness at the age of 18, with his theme being, “A good man is a happy man, whatever his outward circumstances are.”

So why should a Christian be happy?

First, said Edwards, a Christian should be happy “because no worldly evils can do him any real hurt.” Any pain the Christian suffers in this life should be viewed in a manner that Edwards called “sharp medicine.”

Since “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28), we can look through suffering with the understanding and belief we have that sorrow may continue for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5).

Second, Edwards said a Christian should be happy because no good thing that God has given —  including our salvation — can ever be taken away from us. “How great a happiness must it be to a man to have all his sins pardoned and to stand guilty of nothing in God's presence,” said Edwards.

No one, not even you or I, can thwart the plans and salvation for which God has destined us. As Peter wrote, we have “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:4-5).

Third and lastly, a Christian should be happy because we know the best things are yet to come. Or as Edwards puts it: “from the joyful hope and assured expectation of the enjoyment of the completion of happiness eternally hereafter …We shall only say this, that the good man has the assurance and certainty of this: that he shall at last surely enjoy such a happiness as the Scripture describes to us.”

Maybe you’re not happy right now because you’re dealing with severe physical issues like my brother’s two patients. Or perhaps you have other life struggles that have culminated in clinical depression (if so, seek out medical help as I did) and it’s pretty dark at the moment.

If you’re like me, you probably think that finding happiness and joy in the midst of such things should just well up automatically in you because you’re a Christian. Well, it won’t.

Instead, it’s a decision and discipline you must practice every day and sometimes every hour. But the more you do it, the more natural it becomes and eventually, you’ll reach a mountaintop and know for a fact that you’ve just been Spirit filled.     

You’ll remember that nothing in this life can actually damage the real you; that the good and salvation God has given you can never be taken away, and that what God has waiting for you around the corner is going to blow your mind for all eternity. 

Edwards concludes his first sermon by drilling home the confidence we should have in these facts:

“[The Christian] has the best testimony, and the strongest security of it; he has a well-grounded hope that what he loves now above all things he shall then enjoy to the full of his desires, and whatsoever little beginnings of pleasure he feels now, he is assured, shall bestow the highest perfection without the least mixture of the contrary. And now I leave it to every particular man's consideration, how great the happiness is in the actual enjoyment, and how great in the expectation of it, and with this consideration, the grounds of the hope of this happiness can't be in the least lessened by the greatest worldly afflictions. And now I hope I have sufficiently cleared it up: the godly man is happy in whatsoever worldly circumstances he is placed.”

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.

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