In 1974, Ira F Stanphill was driving his car in Texas. Listening to a radio advert for a pub “happy hour”, he reflected on the futility of happiness which lasts but an hour, and began to contrast it with the happiness of knowing Christ as his Saviour. “As this thought really took over my mind I began to sing. I sang a new song, composing words and melody as I drove along. I sang it almost as it is published today.”
Happiness is to know the Saviour,
Living a life within His favour,
Having a change in my behaviour –
Happiness is the Lord.
Real joy is mine,
no matter if teardrops start;
I've found the secret –
it's Jesus in my heart!
The words may not carry the deep theology of a Wesley hymn, but it is certainly a song that inspires heartfelt praise and joy. Indeed, sometimes we forget how good it is to be saved and fail to enjoy our salvation. As the late Tommy Perry, a converted alcoholic from Prestwick, often said, “It is great to be saved!” A W Tozer went further: “The people of God ought to be the happiest people in all the wide world! People should be coming to us constantly and asking the source of our joy and delight.”
Perhaps today’s car journey will confront you with lights constantly at red, traffic jams, and discourteous drivers. As a result, you could become totally unhappy. On the other hand, you could profitably use the time to preach to yourself. For example, think of Paul’s words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). And what are those blessings? “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us” (Ephesians 1:7). There is a song in there!