God, Fun, and Happiness, part 2

In my previous post, I pushed the idea that God is fun. In fact, God’s the creator of fun; we were made to enjoy life with God and each other in the world that God created. And even though we’ve twisted up that world with all kinds of sin, we still experience moments of pure, guilt-free enjoyment. I believe those moments help point us to a greater reality: God wants to give us a much greater, much deeper happiness than we can imagine.

Last week I was fortunate to have quite a few of those fun moments. I traveled with my family on a long-planned vacation to Orlando, including the parks of Disney World and Universal Studios. I must admit, it’s fairly easy to enjoy life when you’re 800 miles away in the land of Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter. We soaked up the Florida sun and explored the parks from end to end. We kept up our strength with good food and a steady stream of themed snacks. When we were beat, we headed back to the hotel for downtime and maybe a swim.

On the last day of our vacation, Emily and I discussed with the kids about our favorite moments from Disney World and Universal Studios. We talked about the new rides as well as some of our old favorites. We talked about the hotel and the food and the weather. But it was difficult for me to pick a favorite moment; I felt there was something deeper than any one fun moment, or even all of the fun moments combined. For me, it was simply being there together (which I know sounds like a greeting-card answer, but it’s true). I was just happy to be there with my three favorite people in the world, and thankful to God that we could experience such a trip together.

It will probably be quite a while before our family can take another vacation like that. If my happiness depended on the vacation, then my happiness would now be gone. But tonight I’ll get to eat dinner and go to a Good Friday service with those same three people. I’ll get to go to sleep in a house with those same three people. Lord willing, I get to wake up tomorrow with those same three people. Even if we had never been able to take the Orlando vacation, I would still be happy to be together with my family. They are more precious than any vacation trip I could possibly make.

Hallmark, feel free to steal any of that.

But seriously, that kind of happiness is what God’s all about. Good Friday is good because Jesus’s death reconciled countless people back into God’s family. If Jesus had never died on the cross, then our sins would have always separated all of us from God. But through Jesus’s death and resurrection, the only thing that can separate us from God is unbelief. If we believe the good news of Jesus, then we are reunited with God forever, and it’s in that restored relationship with God that we find true happiness.

For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:2-4 CSB)

Every so often, I’ll read or hear some religious comment saying that God isn’t really concerned with our happiness. However, if God had wanted all of us to be miserable, all he would have had to do was leave us alone. Then we would have never known his love, never seen his sacrifice, never experienced the power of his grace, and never had hope of heaven.

How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
How joyful is a person whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity
and in whose spirit is no deceit!
(Psalm 32:1-2 CSB)

So if we believe Jesus at all, then we ought to be the happiest people on the planet to have a God who loves us in the way Jesus does. If we are trusting Jesus, then his love will prove greater than all the sufferings of our life, and our happiness of being in God’s family will prove greater than all our sorrows.

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