God is with you, in happiness and in pain

Today I opened my email inbox to find an ad for a new book by a Christian author called “Happiness.” The email’s title was, “Happiness on Earth Is a Biblical PROMISE!” and at the top of the email in bold letters were the words, “HAPPINESS IS OUR INHERITANCE – HERE ON EARTH!”

I’ve been reading the Bible since I was a child, regularly for the past 20 years. I spend two and a half years in a Bible college as a Theology major, have written Bible study materials for the past 9 years, and have focused all of my energy in the past 2 years into building a business publishing Christian materials. Never once have I read “happiness” was our spiritual inheritance or a Biblical promise. Now I haven’t read the aforementioned book, so maybe the author is using all of that as a marketing scheme to lure people into understanding joy through tribulation, but that’s not what it seems upon first reading it.

As a person living in this generation, are you happy? I really hope you are happy, but I have major doubts about your theology if you think happiness is a Biblical promise. What will you do if some tragedy comes your way? Will your faith waiver if you are unhappy?

A few days ago I opened my internet browser and read about some horrible acts taking place in the world. Beheading of an elderly scholar and others. Admission of guilt in participating in child porn. The ripping apart of live babies, to access their brains for research and other body parts for sale. Young girls used as sex slaves in the name of “religion.” The tears began as I wrote those last few sentences, just as they did when I read those news articles.

Do you cry when you read the news? Or are you so “happy” that you aren’t touched emotionally by the plight of victims around the world? Hebrews 13:3 admonishes us we should feel the pain of others as we remember what they are going through.

“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” NLT

It’s not fun to cry or to feel emotional pain. Many of us have enough pain of our own; we don’t want to be “bothered” by the pain of others. But the truth is, hiding from pain won’t help us heal. Like a neglected broken bone, leaving pain unattended can lead to us healing in broken and dysfunctional ways, leading to other issues.

I believe our emotional response is a marker of where we are at spiritually, the compassion we hold for others, and our detestation for sin. It may even be a matter of salvation. Ezekiel 9:4 tells the story of the man God sent to mark the people who grieve because of the evil going on around them. Only those marked were spared death.

“He said to him, ‘Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.’ Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, ‘Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity!'” NLT

Listen to your God-given emotions. Don’t stuff them, pretending they aren’t there. There is a reason you feel feelings. God can use your emotions to lead you closer to Him, to align your path with His Word, and to show His power through your life. James 5:13-17 offers more insight on what we should do with our emotional states.

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” NLT

Pray. Praise. Have others pray for you and anoint you with oil, in faith. Confess and pray for one another. But whatever you do, don’t turn off your emotions. Don’t buy into the “happiness” lie. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel pain. It’s okay not to have it altogether. God loves you no matter what happens-past, present or future.

Happiness isn’t a Biblical promise, but God’s ever-present presence is. No matter what you’re facing today, God is with you, and saints around the world remember and pray for you in your suffering.

rachael-kathleen-hartman-1Romans 8:35-39 MSG

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Psalms 139:7-12 MSG

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Romans 8:35-39 KJV

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Copyright 2015 Rachael Hartman, share with redirect to RachaelKathleenHartman.com

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