At the onset of the Advent season, I went to see a movie with my youngest boy. He had been really good that week and thought it would be a great way to reward him. The two options I would allow him to see would be Trolls and Moana. I hoped he’d choose the latter due to the color filled frenzy of the Trolls poster (it had too many rainbows for me!) But, of course, Trolls is what he chose. So we went in, got our popcorn, and sat down in the theater.
I typically dread going to the theater, but I seem to always forget why before I enter it again. I enjoy the ease of it (just sit there for two hours, no big deal). The common theater roller coaster set it: I don’t really want to this movie, I get caught up in the move, I am enthralled at the plot line and grow sympathetic with the protagonists, I realize the main moral being pushed, I become depressed.
Which is pretty ironic if you know the major premise of the movie is being happy. Children’s movies have it pretty tough. They (typically) have to entertain well and present proper mores to the children (so the parents present feel they haven’t wasted their time). My disapproval with the movie summed in the final words of one of the main protagonists “happiness is not something you think, it’s something you feel.”
Dread sunk my heart down low, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why this dread had so suddenly settled in. During the upbeat music as the credits rolled, a middle-aged woman a few rows in front of us joined in with this new moral of the movie and got up and danced as well (thankfully, there were only about 4-5 of us in the theater). I could only think of the vanity of the whole thing. Vanity of vanities!
Happiness is not just something one can feel without rhyme or reason to surrounding events. Ironically even the main characters “lost their colors” when they all thought they were about to die. Her own statement was proved as a contradiction. It would be morally wrong for me to show up at a stranger’s funeral dressed in rainbows and dancing about attempting to make everyone join me. “Come on, everyone! Happiness is something you feel!” They would properly call the police and throw me in prison!
We loaded up the van and started to drive away. Just then, the great ol’ hymn Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee came on the radio. I began to think. Christians are commanded to rejoice always (1 Ths. 5:16). But this isn’t some blind “I’m going to get up and dance even if were all about to be eaten” type of rejoicing. That is the only happiness devils and sin can give. A fleeting happiness begs us to dance, “Come,do not listen to others who tell you that you can only be happy by doing this or that; I’m just something you feel deep inside when put yourself before others!”
And that is indeed true. We can easily be happy we when get our way, when we are able to put ourselves first.But it is a fleeting happiness that leads to destruction and death.When happiness is merely something you feel, it is also something that can easily die when our prideful selfish ways are not met.We need a gladness that cannot die. Just what Christ Himself can bestow.
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
We have but two options before us. We can seek our fleeting happiness by getting our own way in pride. Or we can die to ourselves and receive immortal gladness from the Lord Himself. There is so much wickedness, sin, sadness in this world. Death and sickness is a present reality. All of these things work to break the heart of man and lead him to countless tears. Immortal gladness is not drying the tears throwing on the bright colored garb and dancing about. Immortal gladness is not sitting a too comfortable pew being entertained by a clown of a preacher. Immortal gladness is not numbing the pain with emotional worship music.
Immortal gladness is knowing that each of these tears are for my good (Rm. 8:28). Immortal gladness is knowing that each of these pain and miseries, even my own sins are not even worth comparing to the glory I will one day see in Christ (Rm. 8:18). Fleeting happiness is me getting my own selfish way; whereas immortal gladness is God getting His way. My fleeting happiness can only end in death. But His way will “melt the clouds of sin and sadness and drive the dark of doubt away”! Come quickly Lord Jesus!