Read His Words Before Ours!
I kept telling myself I should be happy.
After all, my dream had come true.
I had been accepted into a music performance course. It was a highly regarded course with very few spaces, and this had been the focus of my efforts and attention for two whole years. I had never worked harder for anything in my life, and I had been so excited to find that I had been accepted, but only a few days into the course I was left feeling that something was missing.
As the year went on, it only got worse. The course was demanding, the atmosphere was competitive to the point of hostility, and no matter how hard I worked, it never seemed to be enough. I began to lose the joy I had previously found in music, and I was left wondering why something which had promised such happiness had left me so disappointed.
There was also the question of where God was in this situation. I had prayed, and I believed He had led me there.
Why had He done that if He had known it would be so disastrous?
Didn’t He want me to be happy?
I think there are two common misconceptions we can have when thinking about God and happiness.
The first is thinking that, above all, what God wants is for us to be happy.
We have this idea that if we are following Him,
everything should fall into place,
our plans should succeed,
and life should go well.
The second misconception is thinking that God is uninterested in our happiness. Sometimes we get the idea that He only cares about our obedience.
If we surrender to Him, He will ask us to do the last thing in the world that we want to do. We will be miserable.
So, what does the Bible actually say?
Does God want us to be happy?
But much depends on where we are seeking to find that happiness.
Sometimes the problem is that we’re looking in all the wrong places.
Solomon knew all about that.
The book of Ecclesiastes recounts his search for meaning in life and his pursuit of pleasure. In worldly terms, he had it all: huge homes and beautiful vineyards, slaves to attend to his every need, larger herds and flocks than any king before him, abundant wealth. “Everything a man could desire” belonged to Solomon. (Ecclesiastes 2:8 NLT)
Yet none of this provided the happiness he was seeking.
Solomon obtained all the success he yearned for,
yet his conclusion was that it was futile and meaningless.
It’s just as easy to fall into that trap today.
Whether it’s success in music, academic or sporting achievements, relationships, wealth or popularity, it’s very easy to be drawn into seeking happiness in the wrong places. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these things, and they are good in many ways, but none of them can fully satisfy our desire for happiness.
Psalm 84 gives us a different perspective:
- “Happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually.” (v4)
- “Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” (v5)
- “Happy is the person who trusts in you, Lord of Armies!” (v12)
Here is someone who has found happiness.
It wasn’t from wealth, or success, or fame,
but from knowing God.
From praising Him.
From resting in His presence,
drawing strength from Him,
setting his heart toward Him,
and trusting Him.
This is true happiness, not the fragile, fleeting happiness we can find in favourable circumstances or success, but deep, lasting happiness that is secure.
Following God certainly doesn’t guarantee us a life free from trouble and suffering.
If I’m honest, sometimes I wish it did, but Jesus is clear:
“You will have suffering in this world.” (John 16:33)
At the same time, though, He promises that in Him,
we can find joy that is complete. (John 15:11)
We may not be happy about our circumstances,
but often the difficult times highlight our need for God and turn us to Him.
Looking back, we can sometimes see how He was at work, using those situations to refine our character. Even in the midst of them, there is joy to be found in knowing His presence is with us as David describes:
“In your presence is abundant joy; and at your right hand are eternal pleasures.” (Psalm 16:11)
Looking back, I am grateful that music failed to provide the happiness I was seeking, because it caused me to look elsewhere.
I realised my happiness would never be fully satisfied by success and achievement.
Instead, I was invited to seek that “abundant joy”
that can only be found in knowing God and His presence with us!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!