Why Are You Unhappy?

I have a question for you, dear reader: If you have a Father in heaven whom you say loves you, a Savior who gave Himself for you and gives Himself to you anew every day, a Holy Spirit who wants to stay with you to instruct and comfort you, a Gospel so joyful – my brother and sister, if all this is your possession and privilege, why do you go about so downcast? What do the furrows on your brow mean? How should I interpret your streams of tears? And how do I explain your whole melancholy nature? – You may tell me, “It means I suffer tribulation!”

But, dear soul, have you forgotten the Lord’s admonitions? Has the word nothing to say to you, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22)? Try to be joyful, as joyful as you can be! Is it not written, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)? Don’t you know that the man who wrote this was in prison awaiting the judgment of Nero? Yet all tribulation could not rob him of his godly joy.

A cheerful Christian recommends his faith. Just like you stand in front of the store window to see what is offered in the store, people look at your face to see what lives deep down in your heart. Oh, that they would not discover one among the faithful who always looks sad!

Some people think that a sour face and dark clothing best expresses their piety. They would even consider it unspiritual to laugh. And if someone wished to smile in the church or chapel, in their opinion, it would be a sin, an unforgivable sin.

Oh no! All that is within us should praise God’s holy name! You really don’t need to imitate those who distort their faces to appear righteous. Jesus never said, “When you fast, sprinkle ashes on your head so that all people will see how sad you are!” On the contrary! He said, “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance…but you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:16-18). – Otherwise, people would say: “Look at the Christians! They are just as bewildered in suffering and tribulation as other people.”

Have you heard the foolish talk that Jesus never laughed, nor even smiled? Once when I was visiting a friend, this fairy tale was dished up by a gentleman who was present. A little child who had been trying to follow the conversation ran to his father and said loudly, “Daddy, this man wasn’t telling the truth!”

All who were present felt awkward because of his blunt words. But the child gave an explanation for his confident words: “I know Jesus smiled and laughed,” he explained in an almost belligerent tone, “because the little children loved Him. If He had never smiled, they would have feared Him. But He said, ‘Let the little children come to Me,’ and then He took them in His arms, and at last He blessed them.”

Very true! Do you think that a Christian, whoever he is, could take a little child into his arms without smiling? And do you think that a child would go to a person who does not smile? Children have a very fine sense of this. No, Jesus smiled!

And so let the saints also be joyful and praise their Lord. Be joyful, you disciples, be joyful!

Charles H. Spurgeon

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