That is an interesting question, and the answer is both yes and no. Confused? I was too until I thought it through and prayed. That is one of the great things about God; we can ask Him the tough questions, and if we trust Him, He will answer them.
First, let’s cover what happiness is. Webster’s dictionary has two definitions:
A: a state of well-being and contentment, joy
B: a pleasurable or satisfying experience
So happiness is something that is completely determined by you alone. You get to decide what makes you happy.
Now hopefully, this next question doesn’t offend you, but it needs to be asked, “What if what makes you happy is sinful and harmful for your life?”
Many things that make us happy are not good for us. For example, smoking. I know many people who are addicted to cigarettes and feel happy and at peace when their nicotine levels are high enough and miserable when they aren’t. My Mom was a chain smoker who died at the age of 35 of lung cancer when I was four years old. Smoking made her happy but also killed her.
In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” We are all born with a sin nature because of Adam and Eve and even though we are redeemed when we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour there is a lifelong process of learning how to live with a pure heart.
That’s why I don’t believe that our primary purpose in life should be happiness. So what should it be?
Putting God First
In both the Old and New Testaments we are told what the greatest commandment for our life is. In Matthew 22, when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” God has made it very clear that our priority in life is to love and obey Him.
If you are like me, your first question will be, “Why?” As a child, I always drove my Dad crazy because I needed a good reason to do something, so I said ‘why’ a whole lot. The ‘why’ is simple, because God knows what is best for your life. He “knit you together in your mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 NIV).
God has an amazing plan for your life. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God has a great destiny for us, but to reach it, we need to become more like Jesus. There will be things that we will have to let go of and things we will have to pick up to accomplish it. That process is not always fun and most times will not make you happy.
One thing the Lord required me to let go of was fear. It was holding me back from every good thing the Lord had for me, in writing. If I hadn’t let go of my fear, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now. It was a hard thing to do, and I wasn’t happy in the process, but the joy I feel now being able to help people through the words I write on a page was worth any hardship I went through to get rid of it.
Finding Joy in the Lord
So does that mean that God wants us miserable all the time? No, He wants us to live lives full of true joy, peace, and abundance, and that can only be found in Him. In Psalm 37:4 King David says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
When we make God first in our life, when we choose to let go of those things that are not healthy for us, and we let ourselves be conformed to the image of Christ, we will have godly desires that He will fulfill. We will be able to ask for the things we need and want because we will do so from a pure heart and they will make us happy. So happiness will be a by-product of making our priority Jesus first.
The ironic thing about people who put happiness rather than God first, is that they often end up very unhappy. As this article about the Christian purpose of life says, “the best way to not be happy is by trying to be happy.”
Finding Joy in Sacrifice
There is one more thing I need to mention, and that is sacrifice. Not everything in life should be about us. There are times when we need to put aside our wants, our needs, our desires so that the Kingdom of God can advance.
For example, God may prompt you to donate the money you were going to use to buy something you wanted, to feed someone and have them accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Or maybe God asks you to forgive someone that has hurt you deeply and that is the last thing you want to do, but it is your forgiveness that brings them to Christ. Is that sacrifice worth it?
God may ask you to sacrifice something now so that your future may be better. Maybe God asks you to give up TV and practice writing so that later on in life, you can become a well-known author and speaker. I don’t know what God is asking you to sacrifice, but I do know this: anything He asks you to sacrifice now is worth later down the road.
So what is the answer? Learn to be happy in Jesus no matter what life throws at you because the Lord holds you in His hand and will never let you go, no matter what.
~By Kim Thompson-Pinder