So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison
-2 Corinthians 4:16-17
Scientific evidence suggests that positive emotions can help make life longer and healthier. It’s interesting to note that what the science of psychology has discovered about human happiness in the last few decades is simply old news to us. It is a reminder of biblical wisdom recorded thousands of years ago. In Proverbs 17:22, we read, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
We can indeed establish habits that lead to a type of happiness. Still, we need to understand the difference between God-based happiness and true contentment and what I would call “artificial” or “blind” (even harmful) happiness. It’s entirely possible to become generally cheerful while ignoring or rejecting God altogether. People can and do delude themselves into a fantasy world in almost any situation or way of life.
But personal delusion that allows us to be happy for a while isn’t the subject of this study. The kind of joy and contentment we’re dealing with is based on the reality of our situation. We are destined to spend eternity with the Father and the Son in resurrected physical bodies, dwelling within a New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21:1-4). If that’s not the destiny waiting for us, then what does it matter if our journey to oblivion is a comfortable one?
As there are sad Christians, so there are happy atheists, but both are an inherent contradiction in terms. I would argue that none of the books on happiness that exclude God can produce the level and quality of joy and satisfaction derived only from the Holy Spirit’s presence. The “eternal life” described in the New Testament (John 3:36) is the quality of life given to us in the present and continues into the forever. Even death should have no lasting impact on this joy that God brings to us.
As a pastor, I have had the honor of presiding at hundreds of funerals and memorial services. The stark difference between families of believers in Jesus Christ and unbelievers is most notable in the presence of death. The hope imparted to people by the Holy Spirit and the inexplicable peace that accompanies those whose faith is firmly rooted in the Father and the Son is unmatched by anything else. This undeniable reality confirms the truth of the Gospel.
The New Testament reminds us on more than one occasion that the painful and discouraging things we go through in this shadowland are not to be compared to the eternal weight of glory that awaits us at the end (2 Corinthians 4:17). Trouble, loss, and even despair are purely temporary, passing moments that should be replaced by the lasting knowledge that nothing can separate us from the love and care of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38, 39). Scripture, history, and personal experience give us many clues to how we can establish life-changing habits that lead to a more light-hearted and positive attitude toward life by the Spirit’s power. So let’s start eliminating the things that crush our spirit and weary us and embrace God’s truth that leads to a godly, lasting joy.