Finding Happiness Even in Hard Times: My Interview with Brain Surgeon Dr. Lee Warren

A few weeks ago I had a delightful conversation with Dr. Lee Warren for his podcast about my book Happiness. We talked about what true happiness is, and how to find delight even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Dr. Warren is a brain surgeon, inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know. He honestly was one of the most thoughtful interviewers I’ve ever interacted with. (And we shared a love for dogs!) He graciously told me that Happiness has deeply impacted him personally and theologically.

Now may seem like a strange time to be talking about happiness, especially with so much heartbreak and sadness in our broken world. Please don’t misunderstand: nothing in this interview minimizes the reality of suffering. My beloved Nanci is now in hospice care after four years of battling cancer. She and I, along with our daughters, family, and friends are navigating the pain that knowledge of our impending separation, though temporary, causes. And Dr. Warren is also no stranger to suffering, having experienced the death of his child. (He shares the story here.)

So no, we won’t constantly “bubble over” with gleeful happiness every moment of every day. In a world under the curse of evil and suffering, something would be very wrong if we did!

I say this in Happiness:

If we constantly focus on all that’s wrong with the world, then sorrow or anger will be our default. But the apostle Paul, writing from prison in Rome, calls on us to rejoice in the Lord not periodically, but always.

It’s not insensitive, unkind, or wrong to be happy. By being happy in Christ, we lay claim to the fact that God is bigger than the Fall and affirm that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will reverse the Curse and reign over a new universe. Our happiness shouts that our God is present with us and at work in the world every minute of every hour of every day.

If we focus on the Lord and His abundant grace, we will experience a deep and solid happiness in Jesus, even when times are very hard. Paul said, “His glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything, and you will be truly happy” (Colossians 1:11, CEV).

You can listen to our interview, or watch the whole thing here:

Here are some clips from the podcast, if you'd like to listen to certain parts of our discussion:

Why Did You Write Your Book Happiness?

The Witness of Gospel Happiness

Makarios/Asher: Two Important Happiness Words in Scripture

Why Do You Have Multiple Books on One Topic?

What Is Jesus Really Saying In the Beatitudes?

Understanding the Difference Between Blessed and Happy

Combatting the Disease of Hopelessness

Randy Talks About His Fiction Books

What Does Eternal Perspectives Ministries Do?

Are You Currently Writing Anything?

Finally, if you need a laugh (and don’t we all), check out this video. Hearing that I’d been interviewed by a brain surgeon, one of our staff passed it on. We all got a kick out of it. I doubt brain surgeons are mentioned a lot in comedy routines, but they made the cut in this one. :)

Dr. Warren then shared his favorite two brain surgery comedy bits, here and here. (He wrote, “This is why I rarely get invited to parties.”)

“Happy are the people whose God is Yahweh!” (Psalm 144:15).

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries