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: Why is Pontius Pilate immortalized in our creeds?
- Q&A: How does remembering my baptism help with the guilt I carry?
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?