The breath of God within us is an immense joy. While we are happy, we walk according to God. However, while others suffer, our happiness is at odds with what they are feeling.
This is why the apostle Paul says this: yes, "Rejoice with those who rejoice," but also, "Weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). Joy is certainly what we were made for. But in the face of another's suffering, it is weeping that we are actually for.
Can Happiness Be Harmful?
Happiness can be harmful to those who are excluded from it. The satisfaction of the successful harms the unsuccessful. The rejoicing of those who adore themselves hurts those who are left out. While those who are happy also give me the feeling of malicious pleasure at having supplanted me, their happiness becomes absolutely unbearable.
Happiness can be harmful without evil intentions: Jesus describes in a parable the happiness of a rich man "leading a merry and bright life" without even noticing the poor Lazarus sitting at his door (Lk 16:19-21).
Weeping is better than so much happiness. But how can Paul write, "Rejoice without ceasing" (Philippians 4:4)? If there are joys that hurt, there are also sorrows that hurt. When I am sad and downcast, I don't expect my loved ones to overwhelm me with their sadness, adding their sorrow to my unhappiness.
Therefore, what should we do while others are suffering? Be happy, at the risk of hurting those who are excluded by our happiness? Or be sad, at the risk of weighing our sadness on a misfortune that is already heavy to bear?
"Rejoice without ceasing." Paul continues, "Let your goodness be known to all" (Philippians 4:5). The joy in question therefore radiates goodness, a sweetness. This joy is first interior. Sometimes it is almost imperceptible and not perceptible by any external sign. It touches softly. Just as, in the cold of winter, it is good to be near a radiant stove, it is good, in misfortune, to be near someone whose deep joy radiates goodness.
What is the secret of a happiness that does not offend, but elevates those who suffer? It must be the joy of the poor, a happiness not possessed, but immediately shared.
Forbidding oneself to be happy when others are suffering can lead to common despair. We have better things to do for those who are in misfortune. One of the most precious things we can offer is our hidden struggle to maintain the joy of the Holy Spirit, the joy that radiates goodness and imparts strength and courage.
And what is happiness for God?
The Word of God begins by establishing that happiness is found in God and nowhere else. The apostle tells us in Tim. 1:11 about the "gospel of the glory of the blessed God" entrusted to him, but this passage shows us at the same time that God wants to communicate his happiness to us, as well as everything that constitutes it, because he tells us about the "gospel of the glory of the blessed God."
It is good news that he announces to us. What constitutes his happiness is his glory, that is, all his perfections: his righteousness, his holiness, his love and his grace, made manifest, so that we may be clothed with them, in the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We can already achieve these things, for the reproduction of Christ's character is our happiness; but we will enter the fullness of this realization at "the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the blessed and only Sovereign, King of those who reign and Lord of those who rule, will show in due time" (Tim 6: 14, 15).
We see, then, that our happiness is something infinitely high, something divine, which arises from the communication to us of God's nature in all its manifestations; something that belongs to us as soon as we receive the Gospel, something that accompanies us along our journey, and that will have its full bloom in glory.
The world is completely foreign to our happiness, although men spend their lives seeking it where they will never find it, that is, in the enjoyment of "the things that are in the world." These take a thousand different forms that Satan presents to men to hide from their eyes the true, the only happiness.
They are grouped under three heads: "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (John 2:16). A man of the world, and by this I mean a man who professes Christianity without having the reality of it, a man who, like the foolish virgins, is provided with his lamp, but without the oil that feeds him, that is, without the Holy Spirit that gives divine life, has this man ever found happiness?
The most favored, after having tried everything to obtain it, declare, when they are forced to emerge from the giddiness of pleasures, or the tyranny of labor, or the cultivation of science and the arts, that they have never known happiness. We will! This happiness, we Christians, we possess it. We can say: I am perfectly happy! not: I enjoy my happiness perfectly, but:I have it and nothing can take it away from me.
Happiness is, therefore, the Christian's lot and nobody else's, but these pages are intended to show us what the possession of that happiness consists not in, but the enjoyment of it.
My name is Maria. I am passionate about theology and I have been writing about the religious world for 5 years. I am curious and research everything about the religions around the world. I love researching the curiosities that guide the most varied doctrines in different countries and languages. Today, I am an editor and love to share my knowledge on the portal Prayer and Faith.