On Happiness

Renee Ann Smith —  April 20, 2015 — 12 Comments

Happiness C S Lewis Bonhoeffer

“It was when I was Happiest that I Longed most.
The Sweetest thing
in all my life has been the Longing to find
the Place where all the Beauty came from.

~C S Lewis~

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When I consider the state of the world, the peril for Christians, the suffering of friends and family who are ill, I find myself doubting God’s call to anything that touches on the dreams of my heart. How can I lay before God any requests concerning personal happiness when chaos & despair characterize so much of the world around me?

Yet personal dreams persist. Should I silence them once and for all? I look for wisdom among the Christian men and women who dealt with similar issues in years gone by.

One such is Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a brave young pastor who stood against the Nazis in Hitler’s Germany. When his friends criticized him for falling in love and becoming engaged while a prisoner, he wrote the following comments in his letters concerning reaching out for happiness in the midst of trouble . . . 

“When I consider the state of the world, the total obscurity enshrouding our personal destiny, and my present imprisonment, our union—if it wasn’t frivolity, which it certainly wasn’t—can only be a token of God’s grace and goodness, which summon us to believe in Him. We would have to be blind not to see that.

When Jeremiah said, in his people’s hour of direst need, that ‘houses and fields [and vineyards] shall again be bought in this land,’ it was a token of confidence in the future. That requires faith, and may God grant it to us daily. I don’t mean the faith that flees the world, but the faith that endures in the world and loves and remains true to that world in spite of all the hardships it brings us . . . 

It was then always very clear to me that a person could take this step as a Christian truly only from within a very strong faith and on the basis of grace.

For here in the midst of the final destruction of all things, one desires to build;

In the midst of a life lived from hour to hour and from day to day, one desires a future;

In the midst of being driven out from the earth, one desires a bit of space;

In the midst of widespread misery, one desires some happiness . . . 

And the overwhelming thing is that God says yes to this strange longing, that here God consents to our will, whereas it is usually meant to be just the opposite.

We need not despise happiness simply because there is so much unhappiness.

We should not arrogantly push away the kind hand of God because God’s hand is otherwise so hard. I think it is more important to remind one another of this in these days than of many other things.”

So all good gifts come from God & should be treasured. We dare not turn them away.

This practical wisdom from one of God’s humble servants changed my perspective. I hope it encourages you today! Blessings, friends!

**I gathered my quotes from a wonderful biography: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. You can check this book out & grab a copy for yourself at this link!

bonhoeffer erix metaxas

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Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

12 responses to On Happiness

  1. I love looking back to saints in the past who dealt with hardships, yet still believed God is good. It’s grace. I want and receive that same grace. Such miracles! Thanks for sharing, Renee.

  2. God is good ALL the time. Love this quote from CS Lewis. Thank you for linking at Small Wonder.

  3. Perspective is lacking sometimes. We are so blessed in today’s times. We can worship and love without fear. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. I love that you share these graphics. This was a good one and of course C.S. Lewis quotes are the best.
    Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts. The book looks like a good one. I like the thought that “All good things come from God and should be treasures.
    Hugs for this one!

  5. Thanks for sharing this encouragement from faith giants. I’m struggling to hang on to a token of confidence recently and appreciate these strong words. Great post, Renee!

  6. No matter what is happening around us, as we trust Jesus and lean on Him, we will find peace and joy. Perhaps not happiness, because to be happy usually means all is going according to our liking, but Joy is from within. We can have peace even in the storm. The quotes are encouraging and enlightening. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

  7. Eric Metaxes’ book on Bonhoeffer is a very favorite of mine. Truly one of those examples of how to live out faith. He lived his faith out in one of the most difficult of circumstances, and it is an encouragement to me. I often think of the quote of his “our marriage is saying yes to God’s earth.” I love that. As someone who is very keen to what is happening in America spiritually, this is an encrouagement. I say yes to having kids. I say yes to seeking joy in difficult circumstances. I say yes to God’s earth. Thanks for sharing! Your neighbor at Tell His Story

  8. I have wondered about how to accept good things when there are so many bad things in our midst, but God is good. All of the time. There’s such good stuff here to remind me of that. Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

  9. Renee, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I loved the quotes by Lewis and Bonhoeffer. Thank you for inspiring me today.

  10. I loved the Bonhoeffer bio you referred to. Have you heard Focus on the Family’s radio drama of his life story? Another fantastic resource, and great for older children who can handle the weight of his sad (but glorious) end. Thanks for this encouraging post, and glad to meet you today at Suzanne Eller’s link up.

  11. I read a biography about Bonhoeffer last year. His story is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing these quotes.

  12. This is such an important reminder. My husband and I had a difficult first year of marriage, with illness, death, and job loss, but focusing on the little moments of joy and God’s blessings helped us get through it.

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