Book Review: Happiness, by Randy Alcorn
Not only is it possible for Christ followers to be happy, it is God’s desire for us to experience happiness, joy, and gladness to the full. This is the conviction of author Randy Alcorn. He has written an exhaustive, and sometimes exhausting, book to proclaim that the quest for happiness comes from God himself. It is Alcorn’s expressed desire that we understand why we should be happy, change our perspective, and develop habits of happiness.
The book is divided into four parts. Part 1 examines our longing and search for happiness. The author explains how God has wired us to seek happiness and how sin seeks to prevent us from experiencing it. Part 2 explores the happiness of God himself. Alcorn gives considerable attention to explain that God is happy and that he wants us to be happy. Part 3 surveys the numerous biblical passages that speak of happiness, joy, and gladness. The author explores a number of Hebrew and Greek words and demonstrates how the Bible repeatedly shows that our creator wants us happy. Part 4 addresses ways to live a Christ-centered life of happiness. Alcorn details several different habits that help one pursue happiness.
I found the book to be insightful and challenging. It changed my understanding of happiness and will change how I teach the topic in the future. In the past, I’ve taught that God wants us to be holy, not happy. In attempting to point out that they world’s pursuit of happiness is incorrect, I’ve communicated that happiness and holiness are incompatible. I now understand that is incorrect. Happiness is a biblical concept and pursuit, provided we seek our happiness according to God’s direction and provision.
The downside of the book is that it feels overwhelming. Part 3 especially feels like one is drinking from a firehose. The author piles Scripture references, word studies, and quotes from Puritan authors, and countless other saints upon each other. In the end, you want to throw in the towel and shout, “OK, I’m convinced already!” While the book is good and the arguments convincing, it just feels like too much.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.