Randy Alcorn joins us one final time this week and Pastor John is back on Monday. Randy is the author of the new book, Happiness, a really excellent book and my book of the year for 2015. Randy, of course you wrote the bestselling book, Heaven. Now you’ve written the book Happiness. How will joy in eternity be similar or different from the joy that we can experience right now?
Well I think joy in eternity will be the same sort of thing we know as joy and happiness and delight right now. But it will be purified and absolute in the sense that, as Paul says, we are “sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). We live in a world under the curse. And so even as we rejoice with those who rejoice, we weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). And that is right and it should be.
“The old fairy tale ending — ‘happily ever after’ — is not a fairy tale.”
We don’t just paste on a smiley face as we look at a world of tremendous need, of children suffering. And you have got sex trafficking and you have got all of these different things. So right now our happiness in Christ is something that can and should be very real. But at the same time we recognize we can’t be absolutely happy all the time. In fact, it would be inappropriate if we were, given the condition of the world.
So what will happen in eternity is that we will enter into our master’s happiness (Matthew 25:21). I just love that the master doesn’t say to his servant, “Muster up your own happiness and bring it here, and it is your duty to make yourself happy all the time.” Rather, he says, “Enter into my happiness.” And what makes heaven such a desirable and wonderful place is that it is permeated by the person of God. It is where God is. We shouldn’t want to be in a heaven without God.
First of all, it wouldn’t be heaven truly, but God is the one who brings his nature to it — all of his attributes, including his happiness. So I think in this life here and now, we do get foretastes of the complete and total bliss, the utter happiness, of heaven. And we can do even in the midst of great difficulty what The Valley of Vision, the book of Puritan prayers, does. It is full of words such as “happiness” and its synonyms. Yet it is just so deep with the burdens and realities of a sin-defiled world — but always with the sense of hope, of blood-bought hope, of hope with substance and expectation that one day God is going to wipe away the tears from every eye, as Revelation 21:4 says. There will be no more suffering, no more pain. There will be no more separation. We will experience all of the realities of who God is, and every day will be better than the one before.
The old fairy tale ending — happily ever after — that is not a fairy tale. That is God’s unfolding drama of redemption, the greatest story ever told, the ultimate redemptive story. And he promises us we will never pass our peaks. And we will live happily ever after in his presence, to his glory and for our good. And that magnificence should permeate our lives and our thinking today. We should not wait until we die to discover a taste of all that. We should be experiencing it daily even now.