Christian women, this blog post may not make you happy. And if that is the case, you may need to hear it more than anyone. As I type this today I want you to know that when I write about something, it means God is dealing with it in my own heart. He is a God of loving discipline (Heb. 12), and I often feel very loved by him! Yet, there are some of you who need to hear this just like I do. I do not see or hear happiness, contentment, satisfaction or a pleasure of the Lord from you. I see and hear the world. I see anxiety, busyness, and self-absorption pushing out the goodness of the Lord that should be on display.
Many of us have deceived ourselves into separating joy and happiness into different categories. As if one is real and the other fake. We too often allow ourselves to be moody, downcast or grumpy. When asked about joy in our lives, we may respond that we have a deep joy in the Lord, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy every day. Is this a true statement? The bible teaches us that what is in the heart will be displayed in our lives (and thus our days):
As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. – Proverbs 27:19
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45
Joy is a fruit from the Spirit within us. Happiness is not separate from joy or a superficial form of it. Happiness should be a “symptom” of the joy within us. We are commanded to “Rejoice in the Lord always;” (Phil. 4:4). Even in this verse (and many others like it) the Greek for “rejoice” (chairō ) is translated as “to be cheerful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off” (blueletterbible.org). Being cheerful and calmly happy sounds like a beautiful demonstration of being satisfied with the Lord.
There will certainly be times of sorrow, mourning and seriousness. However, these are not the norm and not adequate excuses to cover the majority of our lives. For even in times of difficulty there should be an undercurrent of contentment as we abide in Christ. What a wondrous testimony to be able to smile and praise while the fiery darts of the enemy are coming at you! The knowledge of victory with Jesus is that sweet.
Does this mean I want you to wear a “mask” of happiness? To slap on a smile and call it good? No. The joy of the Lord cannot be faked, so don’t bother trying. My desire is that you come to a point in your relationship with Christ that you do not feel the need for a mask. That your satisfaction in Jesus is so paramount that you are not hindered by worldly concerns. That offenses, disagreements, and the pains of life all seem petty and microscopic compared to the vast riches you have in God and the depth of grace you see in the face of Jesus Christ.
This is not a simple teaching, this comes with maturity in your walk with God. I see very few women who display such characteristics as this consistently, though it must be pursued. Do not think it will be accomplished without time and effort. And the ONLY way it comes is with deep and long fellowship with God himself. It comes from increasing in your knowledge of him through his Word and finding him infinitely valuable and precious above all else. It is only in his presence that “there is fullness of joy” Psalm 16:11.
Preacher, caretaker of orphans, and man of great faith, George Muller (1805-1898) made happiness in the Lord a priority:
According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life…after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself. (http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god)
If reading this blog stings today, I hope it is God’s Word doing its work on your heart. Allow it to bite and then take action on it. Go to God who is the source of all joy and abide (live, dwell, remain) in his Word. Be happy in Christ.