Shouldn’t Christians always be happy?
I have written a lot about how to be happy. Here is a link to a summary article. It shows that most of the factors identified by scientists researching the subject coincide with the advice in the Bible. They also found that religious people do tend to be happier than the average. Here is a link to my first blog in the series. On the other hand, you can probably think of some Christians who do not always seem to be happy, but does that disprove everything I have written on the subject?
Is anyone always happy?
Christians are human beings. (Yes, really!) We experience ups and downs in life, like everyone else. In our health, or wealth, our relationships. It would be absurd to suggest we should never react to circumstances in a way similar to other people. We should, and usually do, lift ourselves up, or get lifted up, somewhat more quickly than most people.
I’m happy inside!
Some of us don’t always show our feelings a lot. I often look serious when I am thinking and that’s quite often. It depends what I’m thinking about, but I do think about serious subjects quite a bit. I’m not miserable, but I don’t go around grinning all the time. Being happy is not the same as being phoney.
Is it always right to be happy?
St Paul tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. It would be insensitive, and unloving, to go around seemingly oblivious to other people’s misfortunes. We should try to help them overcome their problems and/or to look on the bright side, but not in a superficial way. Jesus wept on hearing of the death of his friend Lazarus and seeing how sad Lazarus’s sisters were. He also wept over Jerusalem when he foretold its destruction. We should not be immune to feeling for other people, even those we don’t actually know. It’s called compassion. It does not keep us from experiencing joy at all the good things around us. They are as real as the bad things.
Sometimes it’s very hard to be happy.
Christians often suffer persecution, especially in countries where another religion or philosophy is dominant. It also happens here, if you speak up on an issue where Christian teaching differs from the general belief, or where actually practicing honesty or charity makes you unpopular. They are not the only ones. Any minority can be a target or anyone who is different. It amazes me how well many Christians, among others, cope when on the receiving end. That things sometimes get them down should not surprise anyone.
Do you expect to be always happy?
Some Christians have expectations that are not supported by the Bible or by evidence. They may have heard the “prosperity gospel” which says if you have faith things will always go your way. They can be most unhappy when reality strikes.
Some Christians find it hard to accept that we are a minority. They think everyone should believe. They get depressed at the state of the country and at the indifference to the message. I hope and believe things are going to change, but there will be many disappointments on the way. Once you have got a realistic view, you should be able to move on out of that kind of depression. Christians have almost always been a minority.
Can you be unable to be happy?
For some people, depression is a medical condition. It takes time and skill to cure it. Christians can become ill, just like anyone else. We get colds, strain our backs and contract diseases. We can also suffer mental illness. I know that God can and does heal all kinds of diseases. He always has – but not 100%. Jesus performed many miracles of healing, but disease did not disappear from the World or from the Middle East while he was around. Having faith does not mean departing from reality.
If Christians are not always happy, isn’t this a U-turn?
NO! None of the above contradicts the assertion that following the teachings of the Bible leads to happiness. And it spreads.