“For you have need of endurance, in order that having done the will of God, you might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).

C.S. Lewis once observed: “We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile, benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’” Though Lewis’s statement is a bit tongue-in-cheek, don’t we all wish that life were more like the Sunday school song: “I’m happy, happy, happy—happy all the time?” Don’t we wish we could listen like children, learn the lessons, and find that happiness?

But we grow up to experience demands beyond our capacities. Disappointments crash in on us. We realize our life journey consists of some very serious stuff. As we try to “trust and obey,” we face tough moral and spiritual choices. Lewis writes, “If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.”

That’s quite a statement! God pays us an intolerable compliment—loving us, yet in the deep, tragic context of the human condition. “To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are,” writes Lewis, “is to ask that God cease to be God.” Instead of staying as we are, we ultimately find fulfillment and what we were made for as we respond to God’s initiatives. That may require some tough adjustments, but that is the way to experience both love and happiness.

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement