A few days ago, I ran across one of those sweet, “inspirational,” slightly sappy Facebook sayings that bug me for multiple reasons.
But, to spare you, I’ll focus on the main reason. At first it seems like a nice little message about avoiding negative people and investing in friendships that uplift you. Then it ends with–
Life is too short to be anything but happy.
Oh, really? You mean my personal happiness is the most important thing in the world? Let’s take this to its logical conclusion: If life is too short to be anything but happy, then my happiness is my first priority no matter who I have to crush to make myself happy.
No, my happiness is not supposed to be my first priority. Jesus didn’t come to live on this inglorious planet among sinful people, and then die a ruthless, brutal death for those selfsame sinners, just so I could be happy on this earth.
Jesus came to give us much more. Blessings more rich, more lasting, more powerful than a mere feeling of happiness.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
-Ephesians 2:4-6 (emphasis mine)
We were dead because of our sins. Dead men walking, bound for hell. But Christ came to wash away our sin and set us free to live and sit together with Him in the heavenly places. That’s an awesome gift.
When you turn your life over to Jesus, He promises never to leave you. He offers peace, strength, and joy (not the same as happiness). But He also promises trials, pain, heartache.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
-2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)
All you have to do is desire to follow Jesus and you’ll suffer persecution. Imagine what happens if you actually succeed!
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
-John 16:33 (emphasis mine)
Jesus never promised that lovely feeling of happiness. In fact, He promised the opposite.
But it is worth it to live for Jesus.
To serve Him on this earth. To speak with God unashamed. To rest in knowing our physical death will take us to Paradise. To have the comfort only our Creator can give when this life crushes us.
I guess those trite little “you need to be happy” mottoes frustrate me because they’re cheap. They cheapen the powerful grace of God. Yes, my life has been full of wonderful happiness, interspersed with very real pain. But who can tell whether the pain did not do me good?
God does give us happiness. But the truest joy, which transcends happiness, is found in knowing you are doing right, knowing you are completely at peace with your Creator. Watch out for sweet-sounding messages.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
-Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)
Life is too short to be anything but fully—and I meant utterly, nothing-held-back—surrendered to Jesus Christ, our Savior.