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Why Are So Many Christians Unhappy?

"But quite a few believers struggle to experience joy. Why is that?"

Joy is the emotion of salvation. We rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8). If you’re a Christian, the Spirit gives you soaring delight in Christ. His beauty and greatness thrill your soul.

But quite a few believers struggle to experience joy. Why is that?

Some people by nature tend to be sad, and joy is an ongoing challenge. When I read Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic, Spiritual Depression, I was surprised that he mentions temperament or personality as “the first and foremost cause.” He may be right.

But there are other reasons. Young moms are often surprised at how tired they are—sleepless and exhausted—and they wrestle to find joy. If you are grieving or suffering, you may not realize that God has specific joys for you in your present circumstance. And don’t forget that our enemy hates us and will steal every ounce of joy he can.

But the most miserable Christians I’ve seen are those who live with a foot in both worlds.

They hedge their bets. They have one eye on heaven and one on earth. They call on the name of Christ, but they still try to find security, satisfaction, pleasure or fulfillment from this world. They’re riding the fence. And they’re not happy.

Is that you? The only way to have joy is to say a full “Yes” to God. Which means saying “No” to the world.

The Great Yes

It is important for every Christian to be convinced that God is good. And what’s more—God alone is good.

If we are not absolutely convinced that God alone is good, we will not be able to say “No” to other gods that promise joy but deliver sorrow. We don’t dare to imagine that there is even a sliver of good apart from God and his will for our lives. Not a shred.

The Psalms drive this truth home.

I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” (Psalm 16:2)

And again,

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:25)

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JimJohnston@churchleaders.com'
Jim Johnston is senior pastor of Tulsa Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the author The Psalms: Rejoice, the Lord Is King (Crossway, 2015). He and his wife, Lisa, have four teenage children.