Fill in the Blank by Rev. Tony Cooke

Fill in the Blank
Rev. Tony Cooke

God is ________________.

What is the first thing that came to your mind?  There are many “correct” answers.  Many people reading this probably thought, “God is love.”  You certainly can’t argue with that.  Others may have thought, “God is good.”  Correct again.  What about awesome, great, powerful, wonderful, or mighty?  Obviously, these and many other answers would be accurate.

But I wonder how many people completed that sentence this way?  God is happy.

I appreciate what Oswald Sanders said in “Dynamic Spiritual Leadership.”

“Paul acclaims the good news of Jesus Christ as “the glorious Gospel of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11).  Rotherham appropriately translates it, “the gospel of the glory of the happy God.”  This rather beatific title describes God not as One who is the object of blessing, but as One who enjoys in himself the fullness of joy.  He lives in the sublime atmosphere of his own eternal happiness (Hebrews 1:9).  Jesus himself possesses a surplus of joy that he has bequeathed to his disciples, a storehouse which can supply us with unique blessings for our lives.”

Sanders goes on to say, “Thus Paul encourages Timothy to believe that the Gospel he is to preach arises out of an environment of joy – the happy heart of God, which is perpetually overflowing.”

So many people see God as anything but happy.  They see Him as angry, impatient, fault-finding, critical, demanding, upset, disappointed, irritable, and short-tempered.  They see God as One who is reluctant, grudging, and hesitant toward us.  However, the truth is that God is eagerly and proactively benevolent toward us.  He doesn’t miserably tolerate us; He joyfully celebrates us!

What Would He Say to You?

In talking with many people over the years who were struggling with guilt, condemnation, shame, etc., I have often asked the question: “If Jesus were to walk into this room, sit down, and speak to you, what would He say?”  Almost without exception, the individuals have said something like, “He would probably tell me how disappointed He is in me, and would point out all the ways I’ve failed, fallen short, etc.” 

While God certainly does correct us when needed, it springs from His heart of love (Revelation 3:19).  When He does bring correction into our lives, it is never to beat us down or denigrate us, but so that we might be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).  God is not the accuser or the condemner, and we need to be fully convinced of His heart of joy and pleasure toward us.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)
17 For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Luke 12:32 (NLT)
32 "So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)
5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

We know that God the Father loved, accepted, and celebrated His Son, Jesus.  At Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:17), God declared from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  We are inclined to think that was because Jesus had done so many wonderful works, but that was BEFORE Jesus ever preached a single sermon or healed a single sick person.  God’s love for Jesus was based on God’s own nature, not on Jesus’ works or performance.  Likewise, God loves us based on His own nature as well.  In John 17:23 (NLT), Jesus was praying to the Father, and He said about all of His disciples (including us), that “…you love them as much as you love me.”  What a staggering thought!  The Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus.  That’s not my doctrine or my idea; those are Jesus’ own words!

When I was a young Christian, I thought Jesus was the nice side of God while the Father was the angry side of God.  In other words, I saw the intercessory ministry of Jesus as Him trying to talk the Father into doing something the Father really didn’t want to do (accept us), or in trying to talk the Father out of doing something He really wanted to do (punish us).  But then I read what Jesus said in John 16:26-27 (NLT): “Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly…”

If God Himself is, in fact, “The Happy God,” then where does that leave us?  A phenomenal example of a believer’s attitude in life is found in Paul’s defense before Agrippa.  Circumstantially, Paul had experienced months and years of great challenge and difficulty, and yet he said (Acts 26:2, NKJV), “I think myself happy, king Agrippa…”  I love that phrase!  While most translations render it something along the lines of, “I consider myself fortunate,” I love the idea of “thinking myself happy.”

If we think God is always angry, perturbed, and frowning, what right would we have to be happy and full of joy?  But if God is smiling over us and rejoicing over us, it would seem right for us to do the same.  After all, we are His children, created in His image and in His likeness!  Having read this, our prayer is that you, too, will begin to “think yourself happy!”