The Beginning of Happiness

Moments of joy are just that - moments. So is it possible to experience ongoing and eternal happiness in this life? Andy Crouch discusses joy in this life and the next.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Do you agree that true, lasting happiness can happen only in eternity?
  2. Do you find comfort in the Christian hope for eternal life?

The Greeks had this saying, uh, the Greeks said, "Call no man happy until he's dead." Because they realized, boy, your life could be going great and then all of the sudden it falls apart. And there were all these Greek stories, of course, about it how it falls apart. Every human experience of joy or happiness, um, has, has a limit. Uh, it's limited ultimately by death, right? Even the most ecstatic moment of your life was a moment, and couldn't stay forever, and, and in those moments, we say, "Oh, I wish this could last forever," and it never can. And in that sense I, I do really, I think this idea that happiness is ultimately only something that happens in eternity is, it is true because the missing ingredient in happiness now— even the most truly joyful experiences of our lives is— the missing ingredient is, is the lastingness of it. And I think one of the deepest questions of life is, "Where do those moments go?" Like, that moment when I felt so alive and was so true, and the world was so beautiful, but it's gone. Where did it go? The Christian answer is, "It hasn't been lost," and the Christian hope is that on the other side of death which is the forgetting of all happiness and the loss of all, all good, uh, all life, that on the other side of that is a better kind of life, and one of the ways it's better is that it lasts. It, it's amazingly continuous with this life. Um, the, the res— the risen, resurrected body of Jesus, um, is not some different kind of body. It's recognizably the body he had now with the marks of what happened to him in, in this life, but in the, in this new life that's even now breaking into the world, uh, things last. And so in that sense, only eternal happiness is real happiness, no matter what you experience in this life, even if much in this life was pain. God's going to raise out of your story whatever was good and is going to bring you into this much larger story, um, that is truly, lastingly good.