God’s kind of happiness, the kind that God says we can have through our allegiance to his Son, is a present reality. “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” “Happy are those who mourn.” “Happy are those who are humble.” Each one of the Beatitudes is in the present tense. Each one of them congratulates the Christian on the happiness he is already experiencing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
George Matheson was a great preacher and hymn writer who lost his sight at an early age. He thought of that infirmity as his thorn in the flesh, as his personal cross. For several years, he prayed that his blindness would be removed. Like most of us, I suppose, he believed that personal happiness would come to him only after the handicap was gone. But then, one day God sent him a new insight: The creative use of his handicap could actually become his personal means of achieving happiness!
So, Matheson went on to write: “My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross, but I have never thought of the cross itself as a present glory. Teach me the glory of my cross. Teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.”
Congratulations, George Matheson! Congratulations on finding God’s kind of happiness — the kind of happiness that is not only a future hope, but also a very present reality. So may it be for us all.
The point I want to make here is this: God’s kind of happiness, as defined in the Beatitudes of our Lord, represents a radical reversal of almost everything we have ever been taught about the meaning of happiness! Look at the Beatitudes again and contrast them with what we have been taught. “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” We have always been taught to define happiness in terms of wealth. “Happy are those who mourn.” We have been taught that happiness means never experiencing anything that causes us grief. “Happy are those who are humble.” We have been taught that happiness is defined in terms of aggression and the competitive spirit. “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” We have been taught that happiness lies in the desire to conform to the values of our own society.
“Happy are those who are merciful to others.” We have been taught that the quality of mercy is a sign of weakness. “Happy are those who work for peace.” We have been taught that happiness is defined in terms of preparedness for war. “Happy are you when people insult you…and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers.” We tend to say, “Don’t get mad, get even!” We say it again: God’s kind of happiness reverses almost everything we have been taught about happiness. But if one of us has to be wrong, either us or God, you can be sure that it isn’t God.