“You Deserve to Be Happy”

Series: Flip the Script – Part 3
The Lies We Believe and the Truth that Sets Us Free

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Well, the details are often different, but the stories sound the same—at least familiar.  One woman writes and says, “I have been married twenty-four years.  I have not been happy.  My husband has been pursuing his own interests and has had no time for his family.  Twenty-four years is a long time to not be happy,” she says.  “The kids are now grown and I’m so lonely.  I have no one to do things with.  Previous to my marriage I had a boyfriend whom I really wanted to marry, but he wasn’t ready.  I strangely happened to run into him a few months ago, and we’ve been spending a lot of time together.  I feel like God brought him back into my life after all this time.  I know you’re going to tell me that this relationship is wrong, but don’t I deserve to be happy?  Isn’t that what God wants?  Doesn’t He want me to be happy?”

A college student writes, “I grew up going to your church.  When I came to college, I was determined to be a strong Christian.  To be honest, it has not been easy.  Everyone else seemed to be having such a great time.  Meanwhile I felt like I was just trying not to be miserable.  At one point I confronted one of my friends who was a Christian about some of the partying stuff he was involved in, and he told me that it wasn’t hurting anybody, and that God wanted me to be happy.  That makes sense to me.  If God loves me, doesn’t He want me to have a good time like everyone else?”

A couple sends an email.  “One of the pastors of your church recently tried to tell us that he was glad we were coming to church but he wanted us to listen to one of your sermons about what the Bible says concerning living together outside of marriage.  I was so offended I can’t even tell you.”  And then the email gives reasons why it was just more practical for them to live together and not be married, but it ends with, “Besides all of that, I know that God wants me to be happy.”

So, the details are different, but the stories are similar.  Now here’s the thing: We’ve all got a story like that.  Every single person in this room has made a decision to do something other than what God wanted them to do because they were buying into this lie that that would make them happy and that they deserve to be happy.  Every single one.

 And so, in this series, “Flip the Script,” we’re exposing some of the lies of the enemy—lies that he tells us and lies that we live by.  And the lies don’t have to be truth.  I mean, we just have to believe they’re true, and then those lies have power over us.  So we’re exposing those lies, and then we are being set free by the Word of God.  Jesus is the truth that sets us free.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 2:11 that “in order that Satan might not outwit us.  For we are not unaware of his schemes.”   

We don’t want to just live life unaware of the fact that there is an enemy, as we talked about last week, who has come to steal, kill and destroy.  That there is supernatural warfare taking place behind the scenes.  We don’t want to just pretend like our heart is not being fought for.  And so we want to expose the lies.  We want to be aware of Satan’s scheme in our lives, and one of the things he likes to do is he tells us lies.  So this series is called “Flip the Script,” because every day the enemy gives you a script to read from, and if you’ll read from this script every day and you’ll start to live by the script he gives you, it…it determines your life.

And a lot of us…a lot of us have read from the “you deserve to be happy script.”  We’ve allowed that lie to direct so many of our decisions, and yet here’s the reality of it: That the more you live by that lie (the lie that you deserve to be happy) the more unhappy you’ll eventually become.  The enemy knows that.  If he can get you to live by the lie “you deserve to be happy,” it’s going to make your life miserable.

And so I just kind of made a list of ways that this plays out in Scripture of people who bought into this lie.  Eve thought eating the forbidden fruit would make her happy, and Cain thought getting rid of Abel would make him happy; and Esau thought eating the soup would make him happy, and Noah thought getting drunk would make him happy.  And David thought sleeping with another man’s wife would make him happy, and Amnon thought lusting after Tamar would make him happy; and Joseph’s brothers thought selling him into slavery would make them happy, and Samson thought marrying a Philistine woman would make him happy.  And Jonah thought Nineveh would make him unhappy and so he ran from God, hoping that he would find happiness.  After 999 women Solomon still thought, “Eh, maybe one thousand will make me happy.”  The rich young ruler thought that keeping his wealth would make him happy.  Judas thought thirty pieces of silver would make him happy.  Ananias and Sapphira thought lying about the money and keeping some for themselves would make them happy.

And Jason thought looking at porn would make him happy.  And Sarah thought going deeper into debt for the new dining room set would make her happy.  And Bill thought embezzling money would make him happy.  And Crystal thought sleeping with him would make him love her, and if he loved her then she’d be happy.  And Alan thought getting drunk would make him happy—or at least keep him from feeling so unhappy.

And so, the enemy tries to get us to live our lives by this lie that “You deserve to be happy!  Of course you do!  How can it be wrong to deserve to be happy?  It just feels right.”  But even secular studies would say that there is no quicker way to be unhappy than to just make your life about your own happiness.  It’s sometimes referred to as “the pleasure paradox” or “the happiness illusion.”  It’s the idea that when you make pleasure or happiness the central point of your existence, you’re going to be miserable.  That the harder you chase after that, the more central that is in your life, the more elusive it becomes.

And so when I talk about this lie—“You deserve to be happy”—because we’re in church, because I’m a pastor and kind of we have our minds thinking about God stuff, it quickly turns into this conversation, I’ve discovered.  If I say it’s a lie about you deserving to be happy, then what someone will say to me is, “Wait.  Wait!  What?  You mean God doesn’t want me to be happy?  Is that what you’re saying?  God wants me to be unhappy?”  See how it works?  “You deserve to be happy” gets morphed into “God wants me to be happy, so therefore I deserve to be happy.”  Do you see how this works?

 And so, what I would say is that God…yeah, God wants you to be happy; but it’s not what’s most important to Him.  Like, He didn’t wake up this morning and think, “Do you know what I really hope happens today in the world?  I hope that person is happy.”  That’s not at the top of His agenda.  But does He want you to be happy?  Yeah, He is a loving father.  He wants you to be happy.  Here’s where we get into trouble.  We buy into the lie of what happiness is instead of understanding what God says about happiness.  He wants us to be happy by His definition of happiness.

So what I want us to do is kind of walk through a chart that will show us some lies we’ve believed about happiness—and I’m just going to label that “cultural happiness”—and then we’re going to look at the truth about what God’s Word says concerning happiness.  All right?

 So first on our chart…cultural happiness…that is to say “lies we’ve believed about happiness”…is that it’s found by pursuing pleasure.  It’s found by pursuing pleasure.

Solomon went on this great experiment in Ecclesiastes where he was going to try to find happiness and meaning in life by pursuing pleasure, and so he just chases after it.  And in the end he says it’s just chasing after the wind.  He can’t get a hold of it.  He can’t grasp it.

 And some of you have tried to find happiness by pursuing pleasure.  You understand, right?  Like, you thought if only you would experience this then you would be happy.  And you were for a minute, but instead of leading to deep happiness it left you pretty unhappy, right?  Like, I talk to people…I mean, this is such a common story, where they kind of grew up in church.  And then they get into high school…maybe college…and they think that they’re missing out on happiness.  And they think that the reason they’re not happy is that they’re missing out on these pleasures, and so they’re going to start pursuing pleasure.  Instead of pursuing God, instead of being obedient to Him, they’re going to pursue pleasure.  And so that’s what they do for a while.  And then eventually life kind of comes crashing down on them, and then they come back to church and say, “Um, my way didn’t work that well.”

You see, God, biblically, would tell us that happiness is found in pursuing of holiness.

Now, look, this is really important.  Sometimes you’ll hear preachers who are well-meaning … preachers who are well-meaning that will say, “Look, God doesn’t want you to be happy; He wants you to be holy.”  Have you heard that before?  Or they’ll say, “God doesn’t want you to be happy; He wants you to be obedient.”  Here’s why I don’t like that.  It’s because it pits two things against each other that should go together.  In other words, it says, “You can’t be happy and holy.  You’re going to have to choose one.”  And I think we all know Christians who have decided, “Well, I’m not going to be happy.  I’m going to be holy, but I am not going to be happy.”  And that’s not what the Bible would teach.  The Bible would teach that holiness leads us to true, lasting happiness.  That these two…to juxtapose holiness and happiness…it’s putting two words against each other that should actually go together.

And so, David helps us with this.  In Psalm 1 he bridges it for us.  He says, Happy are those who don’t listen to the wicked.  Happy are those who don’t go where sinners go.  Happy are those who don’t do what evil people do.  Happy are those that love the Lord’s teaching and they think about those teachings day and night.  They are strong like a tree planted by the river.  And the tree produces its fruit in season (It might not be immediate pleasure, but in season it produces its fruit.) and its leaves don’t die.  (It’s lasting; it’s deep; it’s significant.)  And everything they do will succeed” (vv. 1-3, NCV).

So does God want you to be happy?  Yeah, He does.  The Bible says, “Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37).  “Be glad in the Lord” (Psalm 32).  “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100).  “Happy are those whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144).  “Drink your wine with a happy heart” (Ecclesiastes 9).  “Rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3).  “Rejoice always!” (1 Thessalonians 5).  “Do your acts of service with happiness” (Romans 12).  And you see this in the Sermon on the Mount, right?  It begins…the Beatitudes… “Happy are those who…”  “Happy are those who…”  But just really quickly you figure out God is defining happiness differently than our culture does.  So God will say things like, “Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”  Happy are those, in other words, who are pursuing holiness.  If that’s your pursuit, if that’s what you’re hungry and thirsty for, you’re going to experience a different kind of happiness, a different level of happiness.

Now God’s definition of happiness doesn’t mean that we, you know, always have this obnoxious smile and we’re skipping through fields with music playing in the background.  That’s not happiness how He defines it.  In fact, He says in the Beatitudes, “Happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  In other words, you can be happy when you’re sad, because when you’re sad you will be comforted by God and you will experience a happiness that you didn’t know outside of the sadness.  There is a different, a deeper level that God offers us with happiness.

But God wants you to be happy.  In fact, I could take it a step further and say, “Being happy is being obedient.”  That His command for us to be happy, as He defines it, is a matter of obedience.  So those things are not against each other but rather they go together.  And when we pursue holiness and obedience, then by definition we will begin to experience happiness.

So, moving on, on our chart here.  Another lie we believe about happiness is that it’s determined by (or it’s based on) our circumstances.  

So the enemy wants you to believe that happiness is dependent upon what’s happening around you.  He wants you to feel constantly discontent about your circumstances in life; therefore, you’ll blame God when things don’t go your way.  You won’t walk in peace and contentment.  He’s able to kill, steal and destroy the joy that God wants you to experience.  

And so here’s how he does it.  He hands you a script called “if only.”  It is the “if only” script.  If only I had a newer house, a nicer car, a better spouse.  If only.  You know, if only I had a different job, lived in a different city, went to a different school.  If only I had, you know, better health, a better body.  If only.  And so what happens is we start reading from this “if only” script every day.  Every day.  If only this were different, if only this would change, if only these were my circumstances then I would be happy.  And so, he wants you to kind of have that mindset.  And “if only” is always changing.  It’s always something other than what you have.

You see, if it’s true that living by a certain set of circumstances or conditions would make us happy then we should be the happiest people on the planet, in the history of the world.  But a 2019 Gallup Poll ranks the United States as the thirty-third in the world on the happiness scale.  I was reading about a study of depression in America.  The study showed that people born after 1945 in America were ten times more likely…ten times more likely to suffer from depression than those born fifty years earlier.  That seems odd, right?  Because overwhelmingly our circumstances seem more comfortable.  Our conveniences seem more abundant.  Life seems easier, right?  But the author of the study said that on the whole you just…you know, you find that depression and suicide and hopelessness and giving up and low self-esteem has just been on the rise.

Now some of you understand why that’s a lie—this idea that it’s based on circumstances—because your circumstances did change.  In other words, you thought, “If I only make this much money, then I’d be happy.”  But you make that much money now, and now the number has changed.  Now it’s, “If I…well, yeah.  If I make this much money…”  And do you know what’s going to happen if you make that much money?  It’s going to happen again, right?  It’s just…happiness is this moving target.  Some of you thought when you were single, “If I were married, if only I was married then I would be happy.”  And now you’re married and you’re, “If only I was single…”  And so, there’s this…  Whatever position we find ourselves in life…  Our circumstances change.  And we think that’ll make us happy, but it doesn’t work that way.  

Instead biblical happiness is not based on circumstances; it’s based on relationship.   It’s based on a relationship with Jesus.

So, Paul kind of gives personal testimony to this in Philippians 4.  He wants us to understand that joy and happiness is not dependent on circumstances.  So here’s what he says.  He says, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (vv. 11-12).  It’s that same passage where he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!” (v. 4).  

And so, he’s speaking of contentment…of course writing this from prison…he’s speaking of contentment and happiness as something that is not extrinsic.  It is not based on what’s happening around us.  That it’s intrinsic.  It comes from what Jesus is doing in us.  It comes from what’s happening in our heart because of our relationship with Christ.  That it’s not based upon the size of our bank account or the mechanical reliability of our car or the prognosis from the doctor or the shape of our body.  That it is independent of our circumstances.

The word in the New Testament that is translated “happiness”—in the NIV often it’s translated as “blessed”—it’s used about fifty times.  And Scottish scholar William Barclay helps us understand this word.  He says, “This word describes that joy…”  And I love this: He says, “…that joy that has its secret within itself, that joy which is serene and untouchable and self-contained, that joy which is completely independent of all the chances and all the changes of life.”  It’s not dependent on those things.  It’s untouchable.  It’s not based on those circumstances.

 And so that’s why in John 16, just before Jesus is going to die, He’s meeting with His disciples, having some final words with them.  And He knows…He knows He’s talking to men who are going to be persecuted, who are going to be tortured—men who are going to be killed because of their relationship with Him.  And yet here’s what Jesus says.  He says, “…you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (v. 22).  Can’t touch it.  They can’t touch it.  “You will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”  Because the joy that He offers us is independent of all the chances and all the changes of life.

So next on our chart, if we’re just talking about the lies of happiness…what’s going to make us happy…we think that we’ll be happy if we can kind of win the comparison battle.  And so, it’s fueled by…  Happiness or unhappiness, depending on where you are, is fueled by comparisons. 

And we talked a lot about this in week one: That we just live in this comparison culture.  And the social media, especially, kind of creates this comparison trap.  Facebook, Instagram—where every day we’re just kind of surrounded by the best versions of everyone we know.  And I understand.  I get it.  Of course people are going to put the best versions of themselves up there.  I understand.  But the problem is that the rest of us…you know, first thing in the morning, the last thing at night, multiple times during the day, we think, “Do you know what I’ll do today?  I think I will compare subconsciously everything in my life with the best thing that’s happening in everyone else’s life today.  That sounds healthy.”  And so that’s what we do.  We get on and we just…we just inundate ourselves with the best version of everybody else’s life.  That’s going to make us miserable.  Even if we don’t do it consciously it makes us miserable.  And so, comparisons have a way of robbing our happiness.

There was an article on the ESPN website I read recently.  The title of it was “Split Image,” but here was the subtitle.  It says, “On Instagram, Madison Holleran’s life looked ideal: Star athlete, bright student, beloved friend.  But the photos hid the reality of someone struggling to go on.”  And the article told the heartbreaking story of Madison’s suicide, where everyone looked at her post and thought, “She’s really happy.  She’s beautiful.  She’s talented.  She’s popular.”  But behind the scenes…behind the scenes she felt very depressed and very hopeless.  But there was this pressure…pressure to be happy, pressure to be as happy as everyone else seemed.  And she didn’t want other people who seemed so happy to know that maybe she wasn’t happy, but on the inside she was really hurting and she was really needing some help.  But when we are caught up in this comparison competition it makes it difficult.

And so, the Bible would teach us that biblical happiness is fueled by gratitude.  When we look around and we compare ourselves to other people we have a hard time finding much joy.  But in the Bible we’re told to be thankful in all circumstances.  Not for all circumstances, but in all circumstances we can be grateful.

So 1 Thessalonians 5:16 and following says, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  That being joyful and giving thanks in all circumstances…these things go together.  So “be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.”

And that’s what I would challenge some of you, especially if you’re a Christian—and if you’re really struggling with happiness and people around you would describe you as a fairly unhappy person—I would encourage you to really pay attention to what you have in your life to be grateful for.  It’s not me making light of whatever you’re going through.  I know it can be overwhelming.  I’m not asking you to wake up whistling.  I’m just saying that in the midst of your pain, in the midst of the difficulties, you still have a reason to be thankful and grateful.

Recently, there was a study done by Emmons and McCullough.  They had two different groups.  The participants in one group were assigned to keep a daily journal of things they were thankful for.  So, every day they just had to write down, “Here are the things I’m thankful for.”  The participants in the other group were to keep a daily journal of things that annoyed them.  Like, some of you aren’t in that group, but you are an unofficial member.  And you know, you just kind of keep track of everything that annoys you.  And it’s like you pay attention to it.  You wake up thinking, “Do you know what I’m going to do?  I’m just going to look around and point out the things that annoy me.  That’s what I’m going to do.  And the people around me—I’m not going to pay attention to what it is about them I love or appreciate.  I’m just going to pay attention to the things that drive me nuts.  That’s how I’m going to spend my time.”  And so, he had these people keep track of it.  One group said, “Here’s my gratitude journal.”  One group said, “Here’s my annoying journal.”  And after it was finished, he wrote about the results and he said, “Those who kept gratitude journals showed markedly greater increases in energy and enthusiasm.  They slept better and they were significantly less depressed.”  

Well, that’s not surprising.  I mean, we would expect that.  But we would tend to not necessarily be intentional with it.  You see, we think when we want to be happy…we start comparing ourselves to other people.  And it makes us so unhappy.  Instead what if we would intentionally start being grateful?

The Bible tells us in Philippians 4…Paul says…  You know it’s that same passage where he is talking about being content in any and every situation, being joyful always.  He says that when we do that, we “will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”  It goes against logic.  It goes against our situation in life.  And he says, “His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

All right, so the next line we believe is, “I’ll be happy by focusing on myself.”  Cultural happiness focuses on yourself.  When you buy into that lie that you deserve to be happy, then you necessarily become kind of the center of your world.  The more your happiness becomes the purpose of your existence, the more miserable you’re going to be.

The Los Angeles Times had an article entitled, “Studies Find Depression Epidemic in Young Adults.”  And they were just talking about how people born in the last thirty years are three to ten times more likely to suffer from depression than their grandparents.  Of course, there are numerous reasons for that.  But one of the reasons stated was, quote, “The cultural occurrences that have exalted the individual.”  “The cultural occurrences that have exalted the individual.”  So that someone who is struggling with depression oftentimes focuses more and more on not wanting to be depressed, focuses more and more on their own happiness.  And culturally, you know, the commercials that we’re exposed to, the shows that we watch, the social media we’re a part of—all of it kind of exalts the individual.  It’s about us.  And there is no surer way to be unhappy than to make it about yourself—pursuing your own happiness.

 I ate supper at a restaurant a while back.  Angela was out of town, so I was by myself, and they seated me in the bar area.  Not at the bar.  Some of you can take a deep breath.  It’s okay.  But like in the bar area, all right?  So I’m sitting at a table close to the bar.  And I’m sitting there by myself, and then I realize that it’s happy hour at the bar.  So I’m kind of just watching people as they come in for happy hour.  And as I sat and observed people coming and going, this thought came to mind and I jotted down in my Evernote app on my phone: “If you ever want to find a whole bunch of unhappy people in one place, go to happy hour.”  I don’t know why, but I guess I didn’t expect that.  It may just have been a rough day, but I expected people just to come in, you know, singing and laughing; and there just wasn’t a lot of that.  The more we try to pursue our happiness the more unhappy we tend to be.  So instead we set aside some of the temporary pleasures that will give us happiness for a moment, and we pursue the deeper happiness that God has for us.

An example of this is Moses.  In Hebrews 11 it says, “It was by faith that Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying…”  There’s happiness in it.  “…instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward” (vv. 24-26, NLT).  So Moses has the opportunity to be known and to be brought up and to live this life in the palace as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but instead he decides to experience the oppression of God’s people.  Why?  Because he understands there is a deeper happiness that can be his.  

So cultural happiness says, “You focus on yourself.”  Biblical happiness would focus on other people.  It focuses on others.

A psychologist by the name of Martin Seligman wrote a book called Authentic Happiness.  He spent his life just really trying to understand what makes humans happy, and he basically says that most of us think we will be happy if this happiness void would be filled with more of something that we really like.  So, you know, we would be happy if we had more money, more sex, more chocolate, more success, more achievement, more recognition, more stuff—whatever it is.  But he concludes that the gap between “more” and “enough” never really gets bridged.  It never really fills.  And he did this experiment with one of his classes, where he had the students go out and engage in one pleasurable activity…just something that they knew would personally give them pleasure…and one activity then that would be, you know, purely altruistic.  It would be focused on others.  And here’s what he writes.  He said, “The results were life-changing.  The afterglow of the pleasurable activity—hanging out with friends, watching a movie, eating a hot fudge Sunday, whatever it was—paled in comparison with the effects of one selfless act of compassion.”  And he says that the students who were involved in these selfless acts would become less absorbed, less depressed.  They had a greater sense of community, a decreased sense of loneliness.  And he talks about the fact that it’s so ironic that when people’s primary focus is on doing something that will make themselves happy, they get depressed, and when they focus on giving themselves to others, happiness often gets thrown in.  

It’s almost like we’re made and designed that way.  Seligman didn’t say that.  I said that.   It’s almost like we’re made and designed that way.  He didn’t say that, but that’s what I’m saying.  It’s like we’ve been made that way, right?  And so, Jesus said, “I didn’t come to be served but to serve.”  That there is joy in putting others first.

So, I’m about out of time.  I’m going to throw a few things on here at the end.  In cultural happiness—the foundation is feelings.  So, we will try to determine whether or not we’re happy based on how we feel.  We put a lot of emphasis on this.  “How are you feeling?”  “I feel sad.”  “I feel happy.”  Biblically, happiness has its foundation of faith.  That I can be sad and still be happy.  I can feel sad and still be happy, because I have faith in God.  I have faith in His Word.  I have faith…Romans 8:28“that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Right?  I have faith in that.  And so, the foundation of my happiness is not how I’m feeling on a certain day.  I might have some rough days, but my foundation is going to be on faith: That God is who He says He is, and He’ll do what He says He would do.

Cultural happiness would be found by chasing it.  If I’m not happy it’s because I’m not pursuing it.  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And that, you know, if I just went after it a little harder and if I just tried harder to be happy, then I would be happy.  But that’s not how happiness works.  The more you chase after it, the more elusive it becomes.

Instead biblical happiness would teach that we find this joy by receiving it.  We find it by receiving it.  That we have salvation given to us as a free gift from God.  It’s not of our works.  It’s not that we’ve chased it down and earned it.  But it’s through God’s grace.  It’s through faith in Jesus Christ.  So, it’s something that we receive on a daily basis.

So, look, as I was working on this message…and every once in a while this happens…I feel like I’m trying to do way too much, right?  The problem with that is that you usually don’t really know that until it’s time to get up and preach it.  So yesterday afternoon I was kind of working on this sermon thinking, “I wish I had about six or eight weeks to just kind of unpack a lot of this, but I have about thirty-five minutes or so.”  And so, I was kind of preparing for the message and I thought, “Well, what’s the one thing I want to just make sure to say when it comes to this lie of ‘you deserve to be happy’?”

So, I want to tell you something here…kind of put this in a sentence.  And a lot of you won’t like this, but stick with me on it.  But here’s the truth that will set us free.  You don’t deserve to be happy.  Actually, you deserve to go to hell.  

So, there’s that.  And I’m not kidding.  I’m serious.  Some of you are like…  No, really.  You don’t deserve to be happy; you deserve to go to hell.  This is not difficult to back up biblically.  I mean, this is a core tenant of the Gospel.  It’s usually given a little more context—appropriately so.  But that’s the truth.  You don’t deserve to be happy; you deserve to go to hell.  If I wake up every day thinking, “I deserve to be happy,” then well, I’m going to be miserable.  But if I wake up every day thinking, “I deserve to go to hell,” that’s not going to make me very happy.  

Thankfully, this isn’t all there is, okay?  You don’t deserve to be happy.  You deserve to go to hell.  But Jesus saved you; that should make you happy, all right?  

That’s what we have.  It is this assurance of salvation.  It is understanding the temporary nature of this life that is just a breath.  Our lives are just a breath.  We’re just here for a moment.  But we have been saved for all of eternity, and that should make us really happy.  That no matter what we are going through on that day, no matter how difficult our circumstances are, that we have a happiness because we know that we don’t deserve to be happy, that we deserve to go to hell.  But Jesus has saved us, and that makes us happy.  And so that is the challenge: To live out of our salvation.

I heard it imagined this way.  Imagine you’re a billionaire.  And you have three ten dollar bills in your wallet, and you’re in Chicago.  And you get out of a cab, and you hand the driver one of the ten dollar bills for an eight dollar fare.  And later in the day you look in your wallet and you find that there’s only one ten dollar bill left.  And you say, “Well, I either dropped that ten dollar bill somewhere or I accidentally gave the taxi driver two bills.”  So, what are you going to do in that moment?  Are you going to get upset?  Are you going to let it ruin your day?  Are you going to walk around with a scowl on your face and be angry at the people around you?  No, you’re going to shrug it off.  Why?  Because you’re a billionaire, right?  You lost ten dollars.  So what?  You’re too rich to be concerned with that kind of loss.

And I appreciated that example.  Not because I want to undermine the difficulty and challenges.  I don’t mean to just say, “Well, it’s ten dollars.”  But listen.  Compared to…compared to the gift of salvation, it is.

And so, this week you may experience some loss—maybe more so than you ever would’ve imagined you could endure.  And others of you it’ll be, you know, somebody criticizes you or maybe something you invested in didn’t work out or you wanted something to go a certain way and it didn’t go that way.  So, what are you going to do?  Are you going to let that setback disrupt your life?  Are you going to be discontent?  Are you going to shake your fist at God and say, “I deserve to be happy”?  Are you going to toss and turn at night and just refuse happiness?  If so, then I would submit that you don’t get it.  If you’re a Christian you’re not getting it.  That you have been saved.  You are a spiritual billionaire and you’re wringing your hands over ten dollars.  That there is a happiness that is yours that is not conditional on circumstances and situations, but it is based on God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

 So, you don’t deserve to be happy; you deserve to go to hell.  But Jesus has saved you, and that should make you happy.