If God wants what is best for me, wouldn’t he want me to be happy?
Clarifying the question
Many people think, “God just wants me to be happy.” In one way, the phrase seems almost irrefutable. To say the opposite seems cruel: “God does not want me to be happy.”
Many times, people say, “God just wants me to be happy,” when they want to continue to do something contrary to God’s will. But if “happiness” involves hurting others, hurting yourself, or living outside of God’s plan for your life as he lays it out for you in the Bible, then, no, God does not want you to be happy.
In addition, happiness is fleeting. Happiness rises and falls with the happenings of life. Since we live in a sinful world, there can never be perfect happiness. The devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh will always frustrate happiness in life.
Instead, God wants something so much more for you, and he does want what is best for you.
What God wants for us
Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves . . .” (Mark 8:34). Pause there. Do you see what Jesus is asking? It is the hardest thing in the world. If he would have asked us to take a pilgrimage to the ends of the earth or walk on burning coals, it would have been easier! But Jesus tells us we must deny ourselves. That task is so hard because it involves saying, “Your way is best, Jesus, not my way.”
Jesus continues, “[They] must deny themselves and take up their . . .” Retirement home? No. Their 401k? No. His preferences and opinions? No. “[They] must . . . take up their cross and follow me.” Carrying a cross is difficult. Wait. That’s an understatement! In fact, our word excruciating comes from the word cross. However, Jesus knows that giving us a cross to bear means we will keep looking to his cross. Therefore, carrying a cross is not optional. Remember God’s goal for you.
God’s goal for us
God says, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). Did you catch what Jesus wants? It is not that God wants you to be unhappy. However, happiness also is not his goal for your life. God has a greater goal for you. God wants you to be in heaven with him.
If you want proof, just look at your Savior hanging on the cross. He denied himself so that he could welcome you into heaven. God does not necessarily want you to be happy; he wants you to be in heaven. And he is willing to do whatever it takes to get you there.
Our approach to life
So if God does not necessarily want you to be happy, should you mope around all day like Eeyore? No! As you serve God, thank him for those glimpses of happiness in the happenings of this life. These are a gift he gives you! King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (2:24,25).
The Christian will not expect this life to be heaven on earth. Instead, God promises the opposite: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
But remember, since entering heaven is his goal for you, you can even thank God for the hardships.
Ask a question at forwardinchrist.net/submit.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 107, Number 01
Issue: January 2020
- Q&A: Is anger sinful? - 2023/05/31
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith? - 2023/04/30
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer? - 2023/03/31