My late teen emotional life was characterized by two outstanding experiences: a deepening spirituality and a darkening depression—not necessarily at the same time. So I will never forget what my dad said to me one day while I was standing outside our one bathroom waiting for him to finish washing his face. Knowing both of my emotional experiences he said, With your faith you should be the happiest person around! While I wouldn’t want to replicate his guilt, his observation permanently glued faith and happiness together for me.
I believe that true faith most often ushers in deep happiness. Not always at the same time, but eventually. Look at Jeremiah. He was known as the weeping prophet because he preached during a time when his people were exiled from their beloved homeland, and yet eventually he broke through his lament to write that which has been popularized in both a great, Christian hymn and chorus:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22, 23).
Why are faith and happiness connected? Simply because faith involves so many happiness producers:
A positive outlook—the God who created the universe loves me;
A strong sense of purpose—this same loving God has a purpose for history and my place in it;
Meaning in suffering—Jesus is with me to redeem my pain for greater purpose;
A supportive community sharing deep values—the church, best known as “the body of Christ.”
When are faith and happiness connected? Not immediately. A true faith has to, like Jeremiah, work through stuff to get there. We speak of faith’s testing, like the purification process with silver or gold.
How are faith and happiness connected? Not directly. Happiness is a by-product, not a goal of faith. If you believe to be happy, you will be less so. We believe to honor God, and are, in the famous title of C. S. Lewis’ book on grief, surprised by joy.
Where are faith and happiness connected? In healthy community: in Christianity, a church; in Judaism, a synagogue; in Islam, a mosque. Very few folks can find faith that ushers in happiness alone. At its best, faith is a team sport.
May you grow in faith and be surprised by joy!