Not Happy?

Not Happy?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV).

A recent Harris poll reported that in 2017 only 33% of Americans are happy.  A first reaction might be that only 33% are true followers of Jesus.  Christianity is the most adhered to religion in the United States, with 75% of polled American adults identifying themselves as Christian in 2015.

Upon deeper reflection I realize that not all Christians are happy, nor should they be.  Life is complicated, difficult, and busy.  We live in a broken world and broken promises are the norm.  Life sometimes seems to be more about loss than gain.  We lose our children as they grow up and move away, we lose our parents and friends as they enter into glory, we sometimes lose our sense of purpose upon retirement, etc.

Upon deeper reflection I realize that not all Christians are happy, nor should they be.  Life is complicated, difficult, and busy.  We live in a broken world and broken promises are the norm.  Life sometimes seems to be more about loss than gain.  We lose our children as they grow up and move away, we lose our parents and friends as they enter into glory, we sometimes lose our sense of purpose upon retirement, etc. 

We live in an era of instant gratification in both our spiritual and secular lives.  We want to be happy, and we know that God wants us to be happy so why do we have periods when we are not happy?

There is an old saying “Life is not always a bowl of cherries.  Sometimes it is the pits.”  There is some Biblical truth behind this saying because God doesn’t expect us to be happy all the time.  The Bible teaches, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4).  Sometimes the only appropriate, logical response to life is grief. The Bible teaches us to grieve over your losses, sin, injustice, and your friends who are spiritually lost. God doesn’t expect you to be happy all the time.

 It is important to remember that we were created in the “image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26).  So, does this mean that God cried?  There are few passages in the Bible that express grief as pointedly and passionately as Jeremiah. 8,9.  The Bible tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3).   Other Scripture tells us of God’s sadness (Genesis 6:6, Psalm 78:40).  Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44) and over the death of Lazarus (John 11).

Grief is important for our physical health.  Grief is a painful and difficult emotion, but it is also a healthy and helpful emotion.  Grief is a gift from God and has an appropriate place in our lives.  It is essential that we grieve to move, with the help of the Holy Spirit, through tragedy and adversity.   David expressed the need for grief in Psalm 32:3: “When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long.”  The bad things that happen to us are not your choice, but our response is our choice.

Prayer:  Dear God, As we grieve may we receive a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Help us move through the grief as we stand steadfast on your promises.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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