This is an excerpt from Larry Crabb’s Shattered Dreams that struck me as I read it this week. I once was the happy person who quietly judged those who weren’t. It took the loss of good things for me to long for better things and see the fallacy of the prosperity gospel of conservative evangelicals that I subtly believed. Crabb says it much better than I could, as I am still in the middle of learning this myself and certainly can’t lecture on it. Here’s the excerpt that stood out to me.
When blessings come, we should of course enjoy them. It’s good when children squeal with delight on Christmas morning; it’s sad when they can’t. Celebrate the good things of life. Enjoy the juicy steak, the unexpected bonus, the beautiful granddaughter.
Happy people, though they’re right to be happy, face a subtle danger. They tend to spiritually gloat, to publicly express gratitude and praise for the good things they enjoy while privately thinking that blessings are their due. They can easily slip into a concern for the less fortunate that carries with it a mood of judgment: If they were more like me, they would be given the blessings I have. We don’t easily recognize that mood within ourselves.
Unhappy folks face their own unique temptation. Publicly they tell the more fortunate how glad they are for all who are so blessed; privately they wish that the happy person’s path would hit a ditch.
Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. No command is more difficult to obey. Beneath the surface, we lament another’s joy (that’s the sin of jealousy) and feel good when a much blessed friend has reason to cry (that’s the sin of smugness a close cousin of jealousy).
Happy people do not love well. Joyful people do. That’s why happiness, the pleasant feelings that pleasant circumstances generate, must be taken away in order to be replaced by joy.
Happy people rarely look for joy. They’re quite content with what they have. The foundation of their life consists of the blessings they enjoy. Although they may genuinely care about those less fortunate and do great things to help, their central concern is to keep what they have. They haven’t been freed to pursue a greater dream. That’s why they cannot love well. In His severe mercy, God takes away the good to create an appetite for the better, and then, eventually, He satisfies the new appetite, liberating them to love.
I haven’t yet finished this book, but I have found what I’ve already read both hard and good.