Being Happy as the Cardinal Law


I lost my job recently. I’m actually not unhappy about it. The people there were wonderful, and it paid really well, and I think that what I did there really helped society. It ended well, and it really was time for me to go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that I had that job.

I’m looking for a job now. I’m not actually unhappy about that either.

I’ve been looking into going into ministry for some time. I’ve sold my houses (we were renting our Texas house after we moved away), we’ve gone to trouble to be out of the obligation of our debts, and I was thinking that now is the time. However, we have run numbers on it, and it seems highly improbable that I could support 3 adolescent boys and a wife and myself on that kind of money. Truthfully, I don’t see that I could support a pet hamster on that kind of money. I think there is faith, and there is groundless presumption, and this seems much closer to the latter. I have no relevant academic credentials and I’m obscure. Jon Acuff posted about his difficult early days blogging, and the numbers he posted from then are better than my best days after 7 years of doing this. Let’s just say my web traffic isn’t attracting big advertisers, and I’m not exactly getting rich off of book sales.

I wonder if Jesus started to think that His influence was a little spare when everyone abandoned Him at the cross? Where were all the people offering Him book deals or tweeting His last words?

So, I’m a little burned out on my prior career, and I don’t see how any other thing I work at could support us, so I am going through a phase of feeling a little trapped and unhappy. This is the one truly cardinal sin, apparently. People want to hear that I’m happy, that I have a plan, and that everything is going to be OK. This is the number one thing I’m asked these days, and it is embarrassing to admit that I don’t have this under control. There is grace for all kinds of heinous sin, but I can’t be in a funk, because grace is supposed to have solved that problem. But we don’t believe in the prosperity gospel, that would be ridiculous. Right?

And you know what? I reject that I can’t be in a funk. I am in a funk. How can I walk in the light if I can’t confess the truth, that I’m in a funk? I am not going to pretend to be dealing joyfully with this when I’m not. I know I’m supposed to be anxious for nothing. In fact, I’m not really anxious in that way, and that is honest. I can get a job doing database admin / web app development stuff if it comes down to it. I’m upset because I have gone to a lot of trouble to be available to follow a calling into the ministry and it still seems like those doors are closed. The gospel is burning a hole in me and I don’t really want to spend the bulk of my time in a basement pecking at a computer. So I’m mad about it and I’m having a bit of a row with God. However, I believe that grace transcends these things, and that I am ultimately loved and that in the end everything really will turn out for the good. This includes that I can allow others to be in a funk and still accept them, because I know what that feels like. Grace means that it is OK to not be OK. So, in a weird way, the fact that I’m allowed to be in a funk and that God would rather be in a row with me than a fake happiness, cheers me up tremendously.

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  1. Perfect
    Absolutely spot on. I have been there before, and I am there again. And God does come through, no matter which way we feel about it. He loves us. Period. At the end of the day, that’s all we can ever count on that won’t change.

  2. Yep, absolutely better to be honestly in a funk than hiding behind a smile. And plus if you’re transparently in a funk, then people can pray for you. Like I am :)! Not for un-funkiness… but for blown-away-in-the-gospel-ness :).

  3. Jim,

    I did not know that you lost your job and from personal experience I know what they feels like. Although, I have a job, I get discontent because my heart seems elsewhere for ministry. (I am a chaplain now). Story similar to yours: I went to church one day and was asked how I was doing. I said “O.K.” Response: “Just O.K.? This is the day that the….blah, blah, blah.” Anyway, we are steeped in success Christianity and it keeps us from caring about people, their authentic feelings and struggles. This is theology of glory at ground level. The thought behind this is there is no way God could be working in this because you are sad, angry, in despair, etc. My friend, I can’t imagine what you are going through, not sure how to help, just know I care. Your feelings are normal and if you deny them you deny the truth, so keep them in the light with God. Love u……K.C.

  4. Always loved Calvin & Hobbs. Being genuine is better. So true! I was in full-time ministry for 11 years on church staff as a single and never got rich; supporting a family would have been hard. Now I work from home and minister in the market place. I have opportunities to share my faith and give counsel and walk out my faith, but not dependent on donations. In Genesis, Joseph was a businessman who served the most high God wholeheartedly and was used to save the world of that day. He wasn’t “in ministry,” yet he sure ministered to the glory of God!
    Shalom, and God bless!

  5. Thanks for writing this. The last year has been rough for me and it’s gotten worse over the last couple of months. I have some friends who, when they ask me how I am and I say okay, know what I mean by that. These are precious people to me. It’s comforting to be understood.

    Praying for you and yours, brother.

  6. All of you are really really blessing me. I can say truly that I love each of you very much, and I know my love is a tiny flickering candle compared to His care for you! Everyone has a cross to bear, and it is very much your dignity and glory! He sees us and has great compassion. Kandice you go on the regular prayer list now, wow! Your reward will be very very great.

    16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NASB)

  7. Jim, grown to love you over the course of 9 months…….having discovered you and your book “The romance of grace” through the Mockingbird website. I hurt for you, I’ve been in a deep funk or two myself…things will get better. I wish I had some profound words, actually I do…….”There is NOW therefore, no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”. Praying for you through tears and hope.
    You are my beloved brother and friend……..never met you and maybe never will this side of eternity, but we do meet daily before our beloved and loving Father.

    To quote your friend David Zahl,

    Grateful for acquittal from on high and for you.

  8. Pingback: Another Week Ends: Self-Making Atheists, Structural Dating, Indiscriminate Addiction, Christian Metal, Guilty Pleasures, and Failed Figure Skaters | Mockingbird

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