Back rubs. Being under the covers during a thunderstorm. Pizza. Marital intimacy. Humor. Art and music. A hug from a friend. Not only believers experience ordinary happiness.
According to the Bible, human happiness is not a problem; but ingratitude and idolatry are. In my early development as a Christian I contrasted the above pleasures with “the joy of the Lord,” as if to say pizza is in competition with God rather than a blessing from him. The enjoyment of life, I thought, was for the unconcerned “heathen.” Truly pious people live like monks, extinguishing their desires while feeling guilty for those desires not quite extinguished. This monk envied the happy heathen. I thought, “Shouldn’t those who trust God be happier than those who do not?”
Driving a wedge between God and pleasure is just as unbiblical and dangerous as over-indulgence. Our necessary efforts to avoid “the love of this world” must be matched by an effort to understand the doctrine of God’s common grace. Let us renew our faith in a generous God, the wonderful world he has created, and our joy-filled faith.
Keep me, Giver of All Good, from ungodly joy and joyless piety. Amen.