If people only knew how well they were not hiding their problems.
One of the perks of being a pastor is that you know the truths of people’s lives. OK, that’s not even close to being a perk; it’s one of the massively depressing cons of the ministry.
Everyone attempts to put on a good face. Facebook allows people to give the manicured, happy Christian spin on their lives. Yet we know the pain behind those smiles, behind those Christian clichés that are spouted by seemingly happy people trying to make others happy.
It amazes me how persistent people are in maintaining their happiness while their life crumbles around them.
Several people going through divorces have said it was “God’s will that they get divorced” and the other guy they were seeing is a much “godlier man.” This was God’s convoluted way of bringing about “His will.” I’m always confused how divorce, which is not God’s will, is part of how God makes His will happen. The amount of sin being blamed on God to maintain our happiness will come up on Judgment Day.
People are hurting. This is one reason why pastors are depressed: we know the pain that people are going through. On top of that, we also are met with the complete indifference most have toward addressing that pain biblically. Most will maintain a happy Christian veneer on their pain instead of dealing with it.
Several divorcing couples had at least one spouse who refused to talk to me because they didn’t want to hear “all that Bible stuff.” So they went on their way, finalizing their divorce and telling their Christian friends it was “God’s will” and “all things work together for good.”
Now their Christian friends hear that divorce is God’s will and works out great, which feeds the desire for more to pursue divorce. Those Christians got divorced and they are happy, guess it won’t hurt if I do the same. Meanwhile, in reality, everyone is miserable.
Divorce is just one example. Materialism is right up there too. Everyone is pursuing their stuff, convincing themselves all their material prosperity is “God’s blessing.” Everyone is happy, rich, and fulfilled, after a while you begin to think that if you’re not happy, rich, and fulfilled you must be doing faith wrong. The health and wealth gospel is no longer a fringe component of American Christianity; it is American Christianity.
Happiness is our new idol. Christians are supposed to be happy. So we do whatever fleshly thing necessary to maintain happiness and then chalk it up to God. At what point will we admit that most of the New Testament is talking about suffering, while joy is generally brought up in relationship to eternity?
But that’s no fun. No one wants to hear that. People just want The Happy.
But the pursuit of The Happy means no one takes care of their problems because that would mean dealing with painful truths. Skip that noise! So the problems fester and lives fall apart and generation after generation gets sucked into the pit of fleshly despair, all while happily smiling and putting on a good show.
Happiness kills truth. We should pursue truth more than happiness. Happiness, in its most genuine and safest form is a fruit of dealing with the truth. But if happiness is the goal, we will sacrifice all else on the altar of The Happy.
Listen up people; your smiles do not cover your pain. People can see right through it. If nothing else, they can see the fruit and the results your life is getting. You can chalk up all your sin induced pain to “the will of God” and His “mysterious ways,” but most people know better. Your life does not look like a glowing example of God’s will; it looks like a glowing example of someone following their own sinful will.
Oh pastors, people are hurting and they don’t want help. They just want The Happy. They want the magic God button that will magically make it all happy without having to do anything hard or deal with brutal truths about themselves. Give them truth. Yeah, you’ll lose a lot of people. But call them out on their lies. Call them out on their fake smiles and their #blessed crap.
We follow a man of sorrows acquainted with grief; not the holly jolly Mr. Rogers of our imaginations. Preach the Word. Give them truth. It’s the only thing that will get some to solve their problems and attain eternal joys.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded, be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.