Why Can’t I Be Happy?

Claire L. Eva, Assistant Director, General Conference Stewardship Ministries

Summary: Far too many Christians have that nagging feeling of dissatisfaction and lack of contentment. What is God’s plan for His children in this arena? There is help for all who long to find true contentment in Him.

That nagging feeling

Living life as an unhappy Christian is the most difficult life to live. God is concerned about us too, when we live like this. It is this condition of “neither hot nor cold” that keeps us in a dyspeptic state (Rv 3:15). Some may say the phrase “unhappy Christian” is an oxymoron and, in the truest sense, I would agree. However, far too many Christians have that nagging feeling of dissatisfaction and lack of contentment.

To admit there is something missing in life is not a popular thing. For leaders like us (and this journal primarily goes to Church leaders), this is part of the reason life is so hard—we cannot, we feel we dare not, admit any lack in our life. We need to keep up that image and stay in line for promotion, or at least recognition!

Scripture is evidence that God calls all kinds of people into His kingdom, and that is real encouragement for us! Paul is an example of this. He was a “hot and cold” fellow. When he persecuted Christians, he coldly went all out! When he realized what he had done, by God’s Spirit, he turned around and became a living flame for the Gospel and his Christ.

Beyond physical need

One of the few and most popular passages regarding contentment, quoted in this issue, is found in Philippians 4. Here Paul says, “… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” I must admit, I had not contemplated this passage so thoughtfully, until I began editing this issue. I have mentally gone beyond the physical needs issue—the “plenty or in want”—to consider what it means to be content, in all situations.

How can one be happy, be satisfied, when a wintry blast blows in with a positive diagnosis from the doctor’s lab, or when someone you loved with your whole heart dies? How can you keep warm when financial hardships chill you to the bone?

I believe our “hot and cold” apostle has the answer. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Php 4:13). He reminds us that “all things work together for good” for us children of God. He tells us that God is on our side, and therefore, nobody of any significance can be against us! Finally, he assures us that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God—not even death! (Rm 8)

“Contentment is having the inner peace and assurance that God will always be with you … no matter what,” says Ken Schnell in his sermon on page 8 of this issue. Practicing His presence, sharing His gifts with those around us, can help us regain the happy life we long for, despite any wintry blast that blows our way.

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April–June, 2006

Contentment