Considering the blog about God’s purpose for creating us, I thought that I would remind everyone (including myself) not to forget to enjoy life. If I am right, and God’s purpose for creating us was to share of Himself and our purpose in life is, in turn, to glorify Him, I believe that He desires for us to enjoy life. The fall did not change that. I don’t believe that God started with Plan A (to share with us, making us joyfully satisfied) and then, in light of the Fall, quickly moved to Plan B. God is still on Plan A. God is in the process of restoring that which was lost, not gathering up the pieces to a sabotaged plan. We are in Christ and have already begun to taste what the original intent was to be. Of course when life takes a bad turn and tragedy strikes, this taste can become very bitter and disillusion us to God’s plan. But we cannot think of God as one who has changed in His purpose and desires. In a very mysterious way, the God who is in control of all things, bringing about all things according to the purpose of His will (Eph. 1:11) is very saddened when the effects of sin take its toll on His creation. This is not what He intended. God desires us to enjoy His creation, His life, and His love. It is still His world even though it is fallen.
Now I am going to say something that is controversial. I am going to use the “H” word. I often hear it said that God does not care whether we are happy, just joyful. I have never understood the difference, but since it sounded good, I joined in with this way of speaking. I understand the fall has distorted what true happiness is, causing people to seek it in areas that can never satisfy (greed, power, fame, divorce, revenge, bitterness, pride, etc), but does that make happiness itself wrong? Since, often times, people fail to understand where true happiness comes from, does that make the pursuit of such sinful? Is there some particular type of happiness that only Christians can have and all others who profess such are living in denial or self-delusion? I don’t think so. I do believe that Christians are the only ones who can enjoy life with integrity, understanding the true source of happiness, but we don’t have to redefine it with some other terminology like “joyful” to be theologically correct. I am very happy at particular times in my life and I don’t distinguish this from being joyful. Me and my three year old son, Will, go to bed each night and watch an episode of Justice League. He loves to do this with his dad. We lay there and talk about Superman, Auquaman, Green Lantern, Flash and the like. He says when we lay down, “I am Superman, you be Green Lantern.” I say “Okay.” While I lay there with him and talk, I think to myself, “No matter what else is going on in my life, this makes me happy. This must be part of the original intent that still is strong.” Relationships bring happiness. Call it joy, call it peace, or whatever other Christian terminology that you like, it still falls within the accepted semantic domain of “happiness.” Do I think that since I trust in Christ I am the only one who can have this? Not at all. The same giving God who created me with the innate ability and desire to respond to such situations in happiness and satisfaction also did the same for my unbelieving neighbor down the street. He too can sit with his son and enjoy the company in a deeply satisfying way. The difference is not that he cannot enjoy life, for God has still given Him that gift, but that he cannot enjoy life with a true hope that God is in the process of redeeming the type of happiness he feels so that it can last forever. If he does have hope, it can only be seen as a misguided therapeutic remedy to keep his happiness in tact for the moment.
You and I as Christians have permission to be happy and enjoy life. That is what God created us for. Our satisfaction in God and life, knowing that He has not moved to plan B, gives us the hope that can fuel that happiness in whatever situation. Call it joy if you like–it is a good biblical word–but don’t deny God the ability to make you happy, for this brings Him great joy.