What Does “being Happy In Jesus" Mean? - 60 Days of Happiness
What does “being happy in Jesus" mean?
Be happy and full of joy, because the LORD has done a wonderful thing. Joel 2:21, NCV
In him the day-spring from on high has visited the world; and happy are we, forever happy, if that day-star arise in our hearts. MATTHEW HENRY
MOST CHRIST-FOLLOWERS I’ve known experienced a newfound gladness after their conversions. Sure, life was still difficult, but they had “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Perhaps that is your story. Or maybe your happiness as a Christian has been reduced to an oasis here and there as you struggle to walk what seems to be an endless desert.
As is the case for many people who are raised in unbelieving homes, the happiness I found in Jesus was a dramatic change.
I first heard about Christ as a teenager, when I visited a church youth group. Initially, Bible stories seemed to me like the Greek mythology and comics I loved. Then I read the Gospels, and I came to believe that Jesus was real and superheroes are his shadows. I felt a profound happiness I’d never known.
My heartfelt gladness was the result of being born again, forgiven, and indwelt by God’s Spirit. This happiness stood in stark contrast to the emptiness I’d felt before hearing the gospel’s “good news of happiness” (Isaiah 52:7). My parents immediately noticed the change. (Mom liked it; Dad didn’t.)
Sure, I needed to make some changes, but I never considered the things I gave up to follow Christ as sacrifices—mainly because they hadn’t brought me real happiness. My worst days as a believer seemed better than my best days before knowing Christ. Jesus meant everything to me. I wasn’t attempting to be happy; I simply was happy.
Even today, four and a half decades later, I’ve never forgotten that infectious experience of happiness, which I believe was part of my “first love” for Jesus (Revelation 2:4, NASB). Sometimes regaining that initial passion involves repentance and calling upon God’s grace and empowerment. David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:12, NIV). He recognized that he couldn’t make himself full of joy. Rather, he needed to ask God to restore his gladness and draw his spirit to want to delight in God. I don’t think that was a one-time prayer for David—nor should it be for us.
Notice that David, talking to God, called his salvation “your salvation.” If we’re to discover or rediscover the joy of a relationship with God, we need to start by recognizing that it’s centered on what God does, not what we do. We didn’t rescue ourselves; God rescued us. So this book isn’t about working hard to try to be happy but about asking God to move our hearts to enter into his happiness.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m no stranger to unhappiness—in this world under the curse of evil and suffering, something would be wrong if I were. I’ve studied the Holocaust, walked through the Killing Fields of Cambodia, written at length on persecution and the problem of evil and suffering, and walked alongside people who have experienced profound tragedy and grief. I’ve experienced illness, adversity, loss, depression, and discouragement. I’m not naturally sanguine, perky, or bubbly. But by God’s grace, as the years have passed, I’ve experienced a more consistent heartfelt gladness and delight in Christ.
True happiness, the kind God wants for us, is not pasting on a false smile in the midst of heartache. It’s discovering a reasonable, attainable delight in Christ that transcends difficult circumstances. This desire is obtainable because it’s built on God’s all-encompassing sovereignty, love, goodness, grace, gladness, and redemptive purposes in our lives.
Until Christ completely cures us and this world, our happiness will be punctuated by times of great sorrow. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be predominantly happy in Christ. Our happiness can and should be solidly grounded not on pretense or indifference to suffering or on wishful thinking but on what is absolutely true! It’s based on solid facts: God secured our eternal happiness through a cross and an empty tomb, and he grants us lives of purpose, meaning, and eternal significance. He is with us and in us right this moment. He tells us to be happy in him—and he never commands us to do anything without giving us his power to obey.
God, you of all people know how much we crave happiness—you’re the one who designed us to crave it! Thank you for giving us both the means and the opportunity to attain it, despite this world’s heartaches. Thank you especially for your provision of salvation in Jesus. Remind us daily that by our Savior’s redemptive death for us, you’ve secured for us an eternity free from pain and sorrow, where we’ll forever be truly happy. Help us live today in light of that truth.