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Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Feelings?

Many years ago, “singer” Larry Norman asked, “Why should the devil have all the good music?”

Sometimes I feel like asking the same question about feelings, especially the wonderful emotion of happiness. Why are Christians, maybe especially those of us who are reformed Christians, so suspicious of happiness? 

“He wants to be happy? Must be a heretic!”

Why have we allowed the devil to steal this amazing emotion from the Christian life and claim it as his own.

Here are a few reasons that I’ve come up with—maybe you can think of some more.

1. It’s been idolized.

People have made a god of happiness, seeking it first, pursuing it in selfish ways and trying to find it apart from God. Happiness often falls into the same category as the gods of sex and alcohol—so misused that we think we dare not use it at all.

2. It’s usually associated with the superficial and the artificial.

We look at Oscar “happiness,” Friday night “happiness,” Spartan “happiness,” new car “happiness,” etc., and know that such “happiness” is so shallow and so short. Who wants to be seen smiling in such superficial and artificial company?

3. It’s so difficult to get.

Happiness often seems to fall into the “unattainable” category, especially as we get older. What’s the point in trying so hard for something that very few seem to achieve?

4. It’s so difficult to keep.

Even when happiness is grasped, it sometimes so quickly slips out of our fingers again that we think, “What was the point in it all?” All that effort for something so fragile.

5. We fear it.

Some people have experienced #4 so often that they now fear happiness. “I’m happy. … Oh No! Something terrible must be around the corner.” Better not to be happy at all than to be be happy with a target on your back.

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Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray. David is married to Shona and they have five children ranging from 4 months to 17 years old, and they love camping, fishing, boating, and skiing in the Lake Michigan area.