Friday, July 9, 2010

The Gift of Unhappiness: On true Joy

John 12:3
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. 

There are a lot of "happy" things going on in my life right now.  My husband and I just bought our first home two weeks ago.  We are having so much fun setting up and decorating, and making it our own.  We are also expecting the birth of our first child- a little baby girl, at the end of September.  There is so much excitement in thinking about her and imagining what she will be like.  We just moved to a new city, where we are surrounded by family and friends who love and care for us.  Like I said, a lot of things to make a person "happy". 

But I must say, yesterday evening, "happy" is not exactly what I was feeling.  In between all the running around, setting up, planning and dreaming- something went wrong.  I tried to put my finger on it, and then I realized: I was experiencing the GIFT of Unhappiness. 

Max Lucado refers to this gift in chapter one of his book "Heaven, God's Highest Hope".  He discusses the concept of unhappiness as a gift- because it reminds us that we will never be truly happy by the things of this world alone.  My favorite part of the chapter describes the gift of unhappiness like this:

"Unhappiness on earth cultivates a hunger for heaven. By gracing us with a deep dissatisfaction, God holds our attention. The only tragedy, then, is to be satisfied prematurely. To settle for earth. To be content in a strange land...We are not happy here because we are not at home here. We are not happy here because we are not supposed to be happy here. We are “like foreigners and strangers in this world” (1 Pet.

Take a fish and place him on the beach.2 Watch his gills gasp and scales dry. Is he happy? No! How do you make him happy? Do you cover him with a mountain of cash? Do you get him a beach chair and sunglasses? Do you bring him a Playfish magazine and martini? Do you wardrobe him in double-breasted fins and people-skinned shoes? Of course not. Then how do you make him happy? You put him back in his element. You put him back in the water. He will never be happy on the beach simply because he was not made for the beach.

And you will never be completely happy on earth simply because you were not made for earth. 

Oh, you will have your moments of joy. You will catch glimpses of light. You will know moments or even days of peace. But they simply do not compare with the happiness that lies ahead....

Those moments are appetizers for the dish that is to come."

I don't think there is a better explanation for what I was feeling last night.  You see, when God's blessings are used to replace Him- the end result can only be unhappiness.  It's so easy to get caught up in all that he has given and forget to take the time to get caught up in Him.  The only source of true joy.  The only place in which our hearts find rest.

As Saint Augustine so eloquently says: "Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee"

So what does all this have to do with Mary pouring perfume at Jesus feet?  As I read this story this morning, it reminded me of the importance of taking all our physical blessings and pouring them at the feet of Jesus.  True happiness, therefore, is not found in enjoying the perfume- but in pouring it at the feet of the one who is worthy. 

I'm challenged to take all the blessings that I have been given and bring them back in thanksgiving and adoration to the feet of Jesus.  This is where true happiness can be found.  This is where permanent joy can be achieved.  Joy that stands alone.  Joy that is not dependent on the things received but on the One who gives those things.  Joy that is everlasting.

Thank you God, for the gift of unhappiness....because it reminds us where true joys are to be found. 


  1. Deb,

    I never though of unhappiness as a blessing. Thanks so much for sharing. I think this was your best blog yet!


  2. What a positive take on something that is inevitable ... I will never look at moments of unhappiness the same again. :)

    Deb, you're awesome.

    God Bless and thanks for sharing,

  3. I find this to be an interesting theory and can't help but wonder why you never brought this up before...
    Anyway, I try to think about this concept now when I'm not feeling as chipper as I would like.

  4. Hey everyone, Glad this post could help!

    It's definitely helped my perspective on unhappiness to think of it as a natural part of being away from what we were truly made for.

    Thanks for reading!!


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