If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands; if you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet; if you’re happy and you know, then your life will surely show it; if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. That little jingle has made its way into church camps, vacation Bible school programs, Sunday school classes, and even Scouting circles. It’s hard to be grumpy when you sing it, but just because we sing a happy little song with funny motions doesn’t mean that happiness follows us throughout the day. Serial killers could sing that song and do the motions if they were forced to in a prison setting, but how many of them would truly have happiness defining their personalities?
God wants us to be happy. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord, Psalm 144:15 (NKJV) says, but the actual word “happy” in that verse means “blessed”. When we honor God as our Lord and have no other gods before Him, He extends His favor to us, and our lives are blessed. Being blessed does not mean that we maintain a constant level of rip-roaring, hilarious laughter and happiness. The Lord chastens whom He loves, and as Job 5:17 (NKJV) says, Behold, happy (blessed) is the man whom God corrects; therefore, do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. “Happy” in that verse is the same Hebrew word, ashre or ‘esher, as “joyful,” used in many other scriptures. When the Lord chastens, corrects, or adjusts us, He is fulfilling His role as our loving Father, wanting only our highest good. Knowing that we are so loved by Almighty God brings a sense of security and deep joy. God’s love is so magnificent that even during the most difficult times of pain and grief, His strength, comfort, and reassurance infuse us with supernatural joy, bubbling in our spirit like a percolating pot of coffee. The joy of the Lord is our strength, Nehemiah 8:10 declares.
If during times of adversity, we have the deep, abiding joy of the Lord, it shows. Joy is the mark of maturity. If our level of joyfulness could be measured with, say, a joy meter, it would be commensurate with our level of obedience to the Lord and our commitment to Him. Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the law of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey His decrees and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths (Psalm 119:1-3 NLT). The closer we get to our loving Father through obedience and commitment, the more joyful/happy/blessed we become! You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11 NKJV).
If your joy meter is registering a low level of joy, approach the presence of the Lord through reading His Word, praying, and praising Him. The better we understand the Word of God, the more we are comforted by it, and the more joy bubbles up inside us, no matter our circumstances. A simple heart-to-heart conversation with the Lord—perhaps confessing an area of disobedience to Him or giving thanks to Him for something—can draw you into His presence within minutes. Before you know it, joy is bubbling up inside you, and you are happy and you know it, and your life will surely show it!
© 2021, Chris Werre