God is happy and desires the happiness of his people. To many, that statement sounds almost heretical—what about holiness? Randy Alcorn, bestselling author and founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries, wants to set the record straight. His latest book, Happiness, is an encyclopedic exploration of the biblical reasons for holding happiness in high esteem. Jen Pollock Michel, author of Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith, spoke with Alcorn about experiencing happiness the way God intends.
How did you decide to write a book on happiness? Did your book Heaven inspire an interest in the topic?
After writing Heaven, I heard many stories about the losses of loved ones. People were asking, “How can I be happy”—they probably wouldn’t use that word because it sounds so unspiritual—“when my seven-year-old has just died of leukemia?”
I began to think more and more of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, when he describes himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). He doesn’t say “rejoicing, yet always sorrowful.” It’s rejoicing that’s the constant, even as this leaves plenty of room for sorrow and struggle.
Something would be terribly wrong if we weren’t grieving for this world and those who suffer. But is it okay to be happy when we live in a world of hurt? And beyond that, is it actually God’s calling? Because if God commands us to rejoice, he must empower us to rejoice. He must want us to be happy. That’s what got me interested in God’s happiness. Is God happy? Can he be happy when he sees so much sin in the world, when he knows what his Son endured on his behalf, when he sees the ...1