For quite some time now I’ve had the urge to poll a room full of people with this question: What words come to your mind when you think of God?
First impressions are what I’m looking for, and I have a feeling that very few responses would include the word “happy.” In The Happiness Dare, Jennifer Dukes Lee is out to change the way we view happiness — and, along with that, our view of God.
With Scriptural evidence for a happy God (Psalm 68:3; Isaiah 65:18) who rejoices over us, His people (Zephaniah 3:17), Jennifer invites her readers (Double Dog Dares us!) to pursue happiness, to stalk joy,and to do it according to the unique way in which we have been created.
Contrary to popular perceptions of God (and of Christians!), the Gospel itself is a call to happiness which is not in any way antithetical to holiness. Theologian John Piper has written at length in defense of the concept of a happy God:
“Happiness is part of holiness . . . If you tried to describe what it means to be a holy person and left out happiness in God, you can’t do it. There is not such thing as holiness minus happiness in God. Happiness in God is the essence of holiness.”
Jennifer Dukes Lee lays down the challenge to overcome obstacles to happiness with truth that jumps into our hole of unhappiness and builds a ladder toward the light. To the defeatist notion that “This is just the way I am,” she offers the happiness booster that “little by little, I can become happier by changing the way I think.” Comparison is a happiness hacker that will yield only to a determination to find happiness of one’s own rather than wishing for someone else’s life. A heart of gratitude is the antidote for perfectionism and discontent. The truth of Romans 12:2 is nowhere more practical than in the “renewal” that takes place when the believer alters her thoughts toward happiness.
What makes The Happiness Dare unique (and do-able) is the recognition that happiness looks different on everyone. Some people are simply wired for a happier outlook on life. In fact, studies show that 50% of our happiness is governed by genes. Ten percent is dictated by life’s circumstances. That leaves 40% within our ability to control, so tipping the balance scale toward happiness is far more feasible if we understand ourselves and others.
I took the Happiness Style Assessment in the book (and you can take it online here). It turns out that I’m a Doer/Thinker, so while I’m checking tasks off my list and pondering the outline for my next blog post, I’m smiling inside. If you are a Relater, an Experiencer, or a Giver, you might want to run for the hills at the very thought of my happy place, but that awareness of our unique wiring only makes God look more amazing — because he made us all. The happiness of my loved ones — however different from my own — feeds my happiness, and all of it is a gift from our happy God, and “part of a happiness cycle that rotates forever on the axis of the Cross, a cycle that will carry us all the way home.”
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
This book was provided by Tyndale Momentum an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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