• By Joseph A. Bias

Don’t Worry Be Happy! Oh Really?

"Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." John 16:24

Pollyanna — an excessively irrational optimism.

Polyanna is a character in a children’s story series of the same name by Eleanor Hodgman Porter [1868-1920].

Pollyanna is not a Bible character. Though it may seem to some that she represents the model attitude of how the average Christian life should be lived—with excessive irrational optimism. Now that is

not what the Bible teaches and it is certainly not what Jesus taught and demonstrated in His life on earth. The word that differentiates the two ideas is irrational. Jesus was optimistic, but never irrationally so. He was not optimistic in a fatalistic kind of way as if all things in life would just work themselves out so we could all just skip through life, la la la la lala la!

Jesus’ life was not only rational it was perfectly in agreement with the will of God. What was irrational was the attitude of those who opposed Him, because everything He did was for their benefit, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, eternally. Jesus saw beyond the moment of hardship, suffering and death that He would endure, to a joy that would make it worth it all. For Him, it was all for two things, 1) pleasing God by satisfying the penalty of death that had to be paid for sin and 2) for us that we would go free of our guilt and sin and be saved from death, hell and the grave, to have eternal life with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for all eternity to come.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

There are many promises of God that point to us living and having life and that more abundantly, of possessing the joy of the Lord, of being filled with hope and generally living lives of peace and goodness. But this is not promised without challenge or opposition. In fact Jesus said just the contrary.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Does that sound like excessively irrational optimism? It is certainly not the most natural response to tribulation. But it is the wisdom and power of God for His Church. Cheer like joy emminates from within the heart. It is not dependent on outward circumstances. It comes from a deep settled confidence in the Word of God and an inner assurance by the Holy Spirit that what God has said He will do.

So we can live without worry and we can be happy—not irrationally, but with reasoned wisdom from above that assures us we will overcome and even now we are more than conquerors through the victory of Jesus Christ our Lord, who loves us.

We can live, not as Polyanna with an irrational excessive optimism, but with a deeply confident assurance in God’s Word.

Our hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus Blood and Righteousness,

We dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock we stand

All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

From “The Solid Rock” by Edward Mott, 1834

#Joy #Happiness


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