God prefers to make people cry than to make them laugh.
Nobody spoils a man’s life like Jesus. Jesus is a killer of all worldly joy. God’s attitude to the world is often lost on many. God hates the world system. The world hated Jesus and killed him. Therefore, anyone who is a lover of pleasure; anyone who likes this world becomes an enemy of God (James 4:4).
God is so implacably opposed to the world; he has doomed it to destruction. Isaiah says: “I have heard from the Lord God of hosts, a destruction determined even upon the whole earth” (Isaiah 28:22). In the meantime, God plans “to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth” (Isaiah 23:9).
God allows wickedness to prevail on earth, the better to commend to us the superiority of the kingdom of heaven. Job notes that: “The whole earth is in the hands of the wicked” (Job 9:24). Moreover, God allows the worst kinds of people to be heads of states and governments. Daniel refers to them as “the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17).
Thanks to Jesus, we are brought to the realisation that what we deemed to be life is actually death. Under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, believers are made foreigners and strangers here on decrepit earth; having become citizens of a glorious heavenly kingdom. Out of this new reality is then fashioned a completely different psychology. The atonement kills everything before it makes alive.
Christ makes every pain irrelevant and he diminishes every joy outside of himself. Therefore, be contemptuous of every advantage. Overlook every disadvantage. Jesus is a leveller. The kingdom of God cancels deficits and erases credits. Every valley is exalted: every mountain and hill made low.
God is at pains to make us see that what we call wonderful is wonder-less. He tells us the man who is blessed is not he who won the lottery, but he who receives forgiveness of sin (Psalm 32:1-2). He says the joy to be cherished is the joy of salvation (Luke 10:20).
Man of sorrows
God prefers to make people cry than to make them laugh. Jesus was a man of sorrows; acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). There is really very little to laugh about here on earth. What is there to laugh about in a world riddled with sin, where souls are perishing every day; and where the thief continues to steal, kill and destroy?
Therefore, Jesus pronounces woe on those given to laughter. He says: “Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep” (Luke 6:25). Amos also pronounces woe on those who are at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1). James goes even further to prescribe a strange tonic for the soul: “Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom” (James 4:9).
But we thought Jesus came to give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness? (Isaiah 61:3). Yes indeed! But Jesus’ ministry is only for those who are sorrowful and mournful. Moreover, the consolations of Christ come not through the reform of this world, but by invitation to another kingdom; a kingdom not of this world.
The nature of this ungodly world is such that, according to the wisdom of God, even in laughter the heart should sorrow, since the end of mirth may be grief (Proverbs 14:13). Solomon notes that sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us (Ecclesisates 7:3-4). By laughter and merriment the heart is made worse, vainer, more carnal and more sensual. It is made more in love with the world and more estranged from God and godliness.
If sorrow is indeed better than laughter, then the man who God makes sad is more blessed than the man who is happy. When a man decides to be good to another man, he tries to make him happy. He ministers to his body. He makes him comfortable. Not so the goodness of God. When God is really good to someone, he is more likely to make him sad. God’s goodness works more on the heart than on the flesh. It brings us to repentance (Matthew 9:13). Its main objective is to lead us along the path of life and make us heirs of salvation.
Therefore, God is not good in the way that is normally considered to be good. If we don’t understand the peculiarity of God’s goodness, we are likely to be sad when we should be glad, and to be glad when we should be sad.
In the kingdom of God, the way up is down.