Monday, October 15, 2012

Differing Opinions



The chorus of a Sunday School song about Jesus Christ staying in our hearts, ends thusly:

“…I’m inright, outright, upright, downright 
Happy all the time."

A blogger recently lamented that “happy all the time” was not a theme she wanted her children to learn.   For in this world, in this life, we are not “happy all the time.” 

I recall playing this chorus on the piano, years ago, for the Sunday School kids to sing.  I never thought of it as improbable.  Besides this, in the course of a morning’s singing, many different statements would offer a balance to our Christian thinking.

As I reflected on the blogger’s concern, I realized she was speaking of the emotions: happy feelings.  I certainly agree with her that trying to live a Christian life doesn’t exclude sadness, grief, or unhappy moods.  On the other hand, aren’t we supposed to “rejoice in all things?”  Doesn’t the Bible say “the joy of the Lord is our strength”?  (By our conscious choice of attitude, not by feelings, which, of course, vary according to what life hands us at any moment.)

Rather than taking exception to the words “happy all the time”, I began to muse on the example in the Beatitudes.  “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted…  Blessed are you when men shall despise you, and say all manner of things against you, for My sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” 

Some translations substitute the word “happy” for blessed.  “Happy are they that mourn… “   “Happy…when men shall despise you…” 

Happy?   I’m to be happy when ugly, terrible things happen?  When my heart is broken?  At such times, usually I’m focused on my fears, my griefs, my pain, the unfairness of life.  Should I just put on a “happy face” ?  No, I’m not able to be – or expected to be – blissful, euphoric.  

But blessed?  Oh, yes!  The Lord says he blesses us when we mourn or are persecuted.  Wow, if I’m especially hurting, then I’m being especially blessed!  That’s not the way the world works it – but it’s what God promises.  He does this, not me!

Beyond that, Jesus Christ lives in my heart.   I may not feel capable of doing battle, but HE is there with me.  I may not always be “glad” for my circumstances.  But God is always glad in Himself.  He’s content with Who he is.  Therefore, God-dwelling-in-my-heart (by my resting in His faithfulness, not my emotional attitude) always rejoices.  The Holy Spirit always lives in me, whether I feel him or not.  (God said it, not me!)  Jesus Christ always lives to make intercession for me.  He doesn’t stop praying for us – or rejoicing over what he has promised will be the “final triumph of righteousness”.

Differing opinions.  The blogger objected to the concept that as Christians, we ought to be “happy all the time”.  And, me?  I hadn’t heard, or thought of, that song in years.  But after reading the words, the song welled up in my mind and heart all the day long.  And every time my mind sang “happy all the time”, I smiled, saying – “I’m blessed all the time” (because of God-in-me).

In this earthly life, there will seldom be smooth and perfect days.  But oh, I’m so grateful that His joy lives  in me perpetually.  Whether I feel glad emotionally, or not, He’s “happy all the time” – that is, HE IS perfect contentment.  And he’s in me, so that part of me, at least, is indeed “happy all the time.”
© 2012 by Marilee Miller

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