I have met people on each end of the spectrum. I have conversed with folks who are convinced that God is “out to get them” and is determined to make their life miserable. I have also dialogued with folks who believe that God’s supreme priority is their personal happiness.
Is God concerned with our happiness? I would say ‘Yes.’
Does God want me to be happy no matter what? To that I would say ‘No.’
Our happiness is intended to have a particular trajectory and a particular object. God’s chief aim for us is that we would glorify Him. It logically follows then, if our happiness is at the expense of God’s glory, we’ve missed God’s design for joy.
In other words, God does not want you to be happy when it causes you to do something wrong or unwise. The apostle Peter reminds us, “Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15). You see, happiness does not trump holiness in God’s economy of things.
I would also argue for a second limitation for our pursuit of happiness. God doesn’t want you to be happy when pursuing happiness requires you to pursue and prefer temporal/worldly things over eternal priorities. John reminds us of this in his first letter:
Everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:16, 17)
It may be very sobering for you to read that God does not desire your happiness in all situations. However, it is my great delight to declare that God really does want you to be happy and blessed. The verses which indicate this are myriad. The Psalmist says, “May all who are godly be happy in the Lord” (Ps. 97:12). The apostle Paul exhorts us, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).
But do you see the common thread? God wants you to ground your happiness in Him.
One of my favourite verses on this subject is Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
I love that challenge! And notice that David doesn’t say, “Agree with me that the Lord is good”—he says, “Taste and see“. The notion that our happiness is to be grounded in God is no mere theory, but rather, this is something to be experienced.
You were designed to be happy and that’s why you search for it at every turn. But the Bible explains that you were also designed to find your ultimate satisfaction and happiness in God.
On September 20 at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well, I delivered a message on this subject—asserting what you have read above. While I encourage you to listen to the entire message below, I should concede that I don’t want you to take my word for it. My prayer is that you’ll “Taste and see” for yourself, and that in doing so you will find yourself blessed, satisfied, and happy.