By: R.C. Sproul, Jr
Is it true, as some say, that “God is happy when we are happy?”
Of course. God, however, is also happy when we are sad. He’s happy when we are frightened, when we are disappointed, when we are hungry and when our foot falls asleep. God is always happy, ultimately speaking. The God we serve is the ever blessed God. While it would be a mistake to equate happiness and blessedness, such is so because blessedness is more than happiness, not less. God is God and as such is not dependent upon any or all of us for His joy. He has no “needs” that we can meet. He is altogether satisfied by Himself and in Himself.
God is happy, for instance, to manifest His just wrath against the sins of men. Perhaps never more so than on those who would seek to justify their sin by suggesting that it serves God’s happiness. That is, those who use this little nugget of “wisdom” to justify their sins may likely find themselves judged of God. The man who breaks his marriage vows, leaving his wife and children because he thinks God will be happy only if he is happy is deluded and headed for destruction. Were we a touch more honest we might translate this ditty this way, “God wants me to do whatever I want to do.” That is sheer nonsense. What God wants, no, what He commands, is that we would obey all that He commands.
And that is what makes us happy, which is how we can again affirm our aphorism. That is, God is happy when we are happy because we are only happy when we obey all that He commands. Indeed His law commands that we be happy, or at least joyful. Rejoice, Paul says. And in case you weren’t listening “Again I say, ‘Rejoice.’” Our calling is to joy. Sadly too many Christians, especially we who are Reformed, think that crankiness is next to godliness. We of all people ought to be the most joyous.
First, we know the depths from which we have been rescued. We have, by the power of the gospel, by the work of the Spirit, been saved from the uttermost, to the uttermost. That is cause for rejoicing. No matter what hardships we may be going through, they cannot be compared to the eternal weight of glory. Second, we know that even the hardships we endure are sent by the same sovereign God that redeemed us. And we know why they were sent, that we might be made more like Jesus. The unbeliever cannot be truly happy for he knows he is under the wrath of God. The believer who hasn’t yet come to understand the sovereignty of God is robbed of the confidence of His salvation, and can’t see the tender hand of His loving Father in his suffering.
The whole story ends, as all stories ought, “And they all lived happily ever after.” This is what our Lord is bringing to pass. We will dance with the Lord of the Dance on into eternity. His face will shine upon us, and we will laugh for the joy of it.