Joy or Misery: You Choose

I prepared for a new year’s eve sermon by re-reading The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith. She was a Quaker minister who wrote a book in response to a friend’s comment about how miserable Christians seemed to be. I started the sermon off with the results of an Amazon search in books for “The Joy of…”. I got over 450,000 results. I listed some of the many results leading to a book “The Joy of Complete Surrender”, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade. This tied in with Hannah’s recipe for a life of joy: surrender and trust. We had a regular service starting at 8 instead of 7 followed by fellowship and food. We then had a testimony service that brought us right to midnight with a happy birthday following Harold’s testimony before midnight and a happy birthday for Maida after the stroke of midnight. It was a great time.


Here are a few quotes from Hannah’s book.


It starts with this quote:


“No thoughtful person can question the fact that, for the most part, the Christian life, as it is generally lived, is not entirely a happy life. A keen observer once said to me. ‘You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable…You cannot expect outsiders to seek very earnestly for anything so uncomfortable.’ I saw in a flash, that the religion of Christ ought to be, and was meant to be, to its possessors, not something to make them miserable, but something to make them happy; and I began then and there to ask the Lord to show me the secret of a happy Christian life.”


“…which is that when we trust, the Lord works, and that a great deal is done, not by us, but by Him. Actual results are reached by our trusting, because our Lord undertakes the thing entrusted to Him, and accomplishes it.”


“He disciplines and trains by inward exercises and outward providences.”


“…is that by an act of faith we put ourselves into the hands of the Lord, for Him to work in us all the good pleasure of His will, and then, by a continuous exercise of faith, keep ourselves there.”


“The greatest burden we have to carry in life is self; the most difficult thing we have to manage is self. Our own daily living, our frames and feelings, our especial weaknesses and temptations, our peculiar temperaments, our inward affairs of every kind, –these are the things that perplex and worry us more than anything else, and that bring us most frequently into bondage and darkness.”


“Your part is simply to rest. His part is to sustain you; and He cannot fail.”


Speaking to a doctor: “Suppose, in going your rounds among your patients, you should meet with one man who entreated you earnestly to take his case under your especial care in order to cure him, but who should at the same time refuse to tell you all his symptoms or to take all your prescribed remedies, and should say to you, ‘I am quite willing to follow your directions as to certain things, because they commend themselves to my mind as good, but in other matters I prefer judging for myself, and following my own direction.’ …It is necessary, then, for doctors to be obeyed if they are to have any chance to cure their patient?….God must have the whole case put into His hands without any reserves, and His directions must be implicitly followed.”


“But it really would seem as if God’s own children were more afraid of His will than of anything else in life, — His lovely, lovable will, which only means loving-kindnesses and tender mercies, and blessings unspeakable to their souls!”


“…in order to enter into this blessed interior life of rest and triumph, you have two steps to take, –first, entire abandonment; and second, absolute faith.”


“The virtue does not lie in your believing, but in the thing you believe. If you believe the truth, you are saved; if you believe a lie, you are lost. The act of believing in both cases is the same; the things believed are exactly opposite, and this it is which makes the mighty difference. Your salvation comes, not because your faith saves you, but because it links you to the Saviour who saves; and your believing is really nothing but the link.”


“All discouragement is from the devil.”


I included thoughts about our entire lives being an expression of worship to God, thus the "Joy of…" theme.


About hansston

Pastor a church in Sparta.
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