Each month, you’ll hear from one of us on what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. Enjoy!
To start our time together today, I have a quick question for you (pretend we’re in Middle School and I just passed this note to you in study hall).
Do you want to be happy? (Check all that apply.)
 Yes, who doesn’t?!
 No, this dark and contemplative vibe I have going on is really working for me.
 I’m not sure. This Thursday is really feeling like a Monday. Ask me again later.
I’m gonna take a shot in the dark and guess that most of us said a resounding, “YES, I want to be happy.” We work toward happiness, and yet it seems to slip through our fingers. Maybe we’re going about it all wrong?
Over the years, I’ve heard pastors draw a line between joy and happiness. They warn against the perils of hanging your hat on happiness.
“Don’t count on fleeting happiness,” they say, “it’s just a circumstantial feeling that quickly changes. Instead, strive toward joy—a long-lasting, steady contentment.”
Well, Lisa Harper has a bone to pick with those guys (and I’m so glad she does!). She offers us another way in her new book, The Sacrament of Happy. According to Lisa we can hope for, and even cultivate, happiness in a way that pleases God. Because God Himself is so completely fulfilled and happy, why wouldn’t He want the same for His children?
Lisa drew me in with her storytelling and authenticity—she made me feel as if I was sitting at her kitchen table eating chips and queso while she regaled me with her hilarious stories. She’ll keep you laughing—but, she doesn’t shy away from the tough realities of life, applying some hugely important theological truths about our identity in Christ to the pains and hurts we face.
The Sacrament of Happy teaches us that our ideas of happiness should no longer center on every hair being in place or each circumstance going according to (our) plans. Instead, we are to center our happiness, and our entire lives, on the character of God Himself. A character that is flawless and never changing. Lisa says, “Real, God-imbued happiness is not the absence of sadness or badness. Rather, it is hanging on to the truth of His sovereign goodness regardless of what’s going on within or around us.”
She goes on to describe true, biblical happiness as “trusting that despite our inevitable disappointments and even our deepest distress, God’s plan for us will ultimately prove itself to be immeasurably better than our best dream.”
Bringing these big picture ideas down into walking shoes, Lisa helps us understand ways we can “safeguard our happy” in our everyday lives by “frisking our thoughts,” Lisa’s way of describing the biblical practice of bringing our thoughts in line with God’s Word, and by “getting our butts out of our ruts,” changing our perspectives by changing our surroundings and focusing on others. She also challenges us to practice “intentional gratitude” because “gratitude leads us toward happiness and it flows from happiness.” So, now, we can point our striving in another, more God-ward direction. And rest in Him for the happiness we need.
The Sacrament of Happy is a great summertime read—you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and I believe you’ll be prompted to worship and delight in our God who wants us to be happy in Him.
Sarah Doss is a Production Editor with LifeWay. She loves a quirky sitcom, baking as therapy, and travel (international or otherwise). As a recovering Lisa Frank enthusiast, she maintains a healthy affinity for school supplies and all things letterpress. Keep up with her on Twitter (she loves Twitter friends) at @sarahdossy.