One of the most profound moments in my walk with God occurred one night in a church when I was on my knees at the altar, on the breaking point. I was crying out for change, crying out for anything. As He stilled my heart and quieted my thoughts, enveloping me in His presence, I smiled. And He said to me: "I love to see you smile."
When I heard those words, I laughed out loud. And I felt such joy--it was like, with those few words, God was giving me permission to be happy. Weeks later, I would think of that moment, and a grin would spread across my face, a giggle would spill out.
I don't know where I got this idea that I was supposed to be serious, sober...sad even. Maybe it's because the central image of Christianity is a man dying on a cross. Sometimes, I think we focus on that image so much, we neglect to mention the best part: He rose again. He was victorious over sin, over the grave. And as His brothers and sisters, it is our inheritance as well (Luke 8:21; Rom. 8:17). Of course, it is essential that we (attempt to) grasp the sacrifice it was for Jesus to come and die for us. But we cannot forget that its central message is not death, but life.
Or maybe we carry this burdened mentality because we focus so much on the fact that, as Christians, we struggle. We repeat to ourselves over and over Jesus' statement in John 16:33: "In this world you will have trouble." The only problem is, we (often subconsciously) leave out the rest of the verse: "But take heart! I have overcome the world." Sure, we suffer. But if anything, we should be rejoicing in those sufferings (Rom. 5:3; James 1:2). Jesus has already won the ultimate victory, and He has given us the spoils.
Or maybe, after all our talk about the grace of God, somewhere in our hearts we still view Him as a Being who looms over us, ready to punish us at our first mistake. Maybe our warped perspective comes from a million different things. A million lies, a million distortions keeping us from an incredible truth.
God loves to see you smile. He loves to hear you laugh. He loves to watch you dance. He delights in your happiness, as any good Dad would. He created it, after all. In fact, it is a reflection of Himself, for we are made in the image of our Father.
That is not to say that sorrows will not come, or that we will never mourn. But do not give in to the lie that we are bound by these sorrows. We are the sons and daughters of a King who loves us immeasurably, who holds our hearts securely in His hands. What's not to be happy about?