Does God Want You to be Happy?
Does God want you to be happy?
I don’t believe God’s purpose is for us to be happy. It’s for us to be obedient and holy. He is developing our character, not making us comfortable.
Now, one of the great ironies of the Kingdom of God is that when we pursue holiness and obedience, happiness is often a natural by-product, but it’s not the actual purpose. Think of the many people in other countries who are persecuted and martyred for their faith. I think it’s safe to say that they’re not terribly concerned about being happy. And yet, they often have something that goes far beyond happiness–joy–as they are obedient and seek to live holy lives devoted to God in their circumstances.
Consider human parents. A good parent wants his child to be happy, but not at the expense of learning important lessons and building character. Sometimes, parents even have to allow pain in their children’s lives so they learn a lesson, develop a skill, or build their character.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7-11)
Notice that hardship is a form of discipline, and that discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Do you know what one of the results of righteousness can be? Here’s what King David said: “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” David described happiness as something that belongs to the righteous.
Some parents want their children to “be happy” above all else, and they’re easy to pick out—they’re the ones with the kids who are whining, screaming, throwing temper tantrums, demanding, etc. when they don’t get their own way. And aren’t those kids going to grow up to be productive members of society? Good parents discipline their children and create an environment to develop their character.
I could (and probably will) write another post on what it means to “endure hardship”. For now, I’ll just say that it doesn’t mean to just simply resign yourself to your fate or your current circumstances. It is endurance with hope, continuing to actively obey despite resistance. Of course, there must also be discernment to know what is God’s discipline and what is a situation He wants you to escape or break free from.
It’s not the overall goal, but good parents still gives good gifts to their children for them to enjoy. They give them experiences that are fun and enjoyable. God does the same with us.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17)
Knowing God means knowing that He gives us gifts to enjoy. It also means knowing that He loves you and wants the very best for you–but “being happy” all the time or seeking to be happy as a primary goal isn’t the very best thing for you. What’s awesome, though, is as you follow God and seek to please and honor Him (out of love, not obligation), joy comes as a result. As children mature, we come to understand that growing up to be the kind of person our parents (and our Parent) are shaping us to be will yield more fulfillment, better character, and yes, even happiness.
Does God want you to be happy? Yes. But it comes as a result of obedience, service, and growing in Christlikeness.
Question: Do you more often experience happiness as a result of obedience or seeking after pleasure? How long does it last? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.