Who Could Be Happy in a World Like Ours?

God is a happy-making God. He claims this as his name, an eternal symbol of who he is: “You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace. . . . And it shall make a name for the Lord” (Isaiah 55:12–13). God’s eternal plan is to make his people happy.

And yet, so often, happiness seems to be pulled just out of our reach — institutionalized abortion, mass shootings, the recurrence of cancer, moral collapse, unfaithful friends, personal sins that seem so embedded in our bones that they just won’t die. Who could be happy in such a world as ours?

God does not miss it. He does not sit with his arms crossed, vainly promising joy to believers crushed with sadness. He entered into our world bodily and endured the greatest of all sorrows, even a cursed death on a cross (Philippians 2:8), so that in our sorrows, in the pain of living in a fallen world, we may “rejoice, though now for a little while . . . you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6). This is what it means to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” in the happy-making God (2 Corinthians 6:10).

Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach people to read the Bible for themselves. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher.

As part of this initiative, Desiring God is putting on regional events focused on certain passages of Scripture. This is Part 1 in a series on Ephesians called “Seeing and Savoring the Splendor of God’s Sovereign Grace.”