There are many versions of the phrase “God wants me to be happy.”
- “God wants me to be rich.”
- “God wouldn’t want me to rush into marriage, so I’ll live with my significant other.”
- “God wouldn’t want me to deny these feelings I have for someone of the same sex.”
The list can go on and on. Usually the person saying this phrase is trying to justify a sin that God condemns. It sounds cruel to say, “God doesn’t want me to be happy!”
But then what does God want for me?
Read Genesis 3:15-19.
In these verses, God outlines the effects of sin and speaks the first promise of a Savior. What does God promise according to Genesis 3? He promises pain in childbirth, sweat and thorns in work, and the dust of the grave at the end of our lives. Consider what the result would be if he had not promised suffering. Only in suffering and pain would Adam and Eve yearn for God’s grace. Only in death would they long for heaven. The same is true for you and me!
What God wants for us
Read Mark 8:31-37.
God wants us . . . to have a cross.
In this section, the apostle Peter thought that neither he nor Jesus should have a cross in life. Peter wanted Jesus to be crowned king, garner the love and praise of all, and visibly rule. In addition, of course, Peter would be his right-hand man! We should not be too hard on Peter. We want ease in our lives too!
Instead, Jesus promises a cross as we do the most difficult thing he could ask of us: deny self. This is what makes following God’s will a cross as we struggle against our own natural will. The cross in a Christian’s life is not just suffering, but it is suffering that comes as a result of being a Christian. Jesus uses the cross in life to keep us focused on his cross.
Read Romans 7:14-25.
God wants us . . . to struggle against our sinful flesh.
Think of Luther’s explanation to the First Commandment: “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” What makes that so difficult for a Christian? The sinful flesh is at work most when you are focused on God. How is your sinful flesh at work when you are praying, listening to God’s Word, or even giving an offering?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
God wants us . . . to depend on him.
The apostle Paul wanted God to take away his thorn in the flesh, but God responds, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Each one of us could write our own autobiography with this verse as the title. What are some ways that God has used the crosses of life to drive you back to his own?
Read 1 Timothy 2:3,4.
God wants us . . . to be in heaven.
Did you notice the words “all people”? You are part of all people. God does not necessarily want you to be happy. He wants you to be in heaven with him, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get you there.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 107, Number 01
Issue: January 2020