Thursday, August 11, 2011

God Does Not Care About Your Happiness

There, I've said it.

So many people talk about not being happy, and here I am saying that God does not care about your happiness. Really. I look for places in Scripture that signal to me that God's driving interest in our life is to provide the things that fit our definition of what it means to be happy. It's not there. God's attention is on something else in our life.

Ask anyone what it means to be happy. Some describe happiness as the general feeling of euphoria. You are happy, some say, if you feel the rush of endorphins from any source - extreme sports, roller coasters, great parties, competitive card games, a great sale, etc. Others will say that drugs and alcohol will give them the feeling they describe as happy, even if only temporarily.

Psychologists describe happiness as a route of a person' s life. It begins with physiological needs for food water, sleep, and a general level of physical peace in life. Once those are met, more and more happiness is achieved by being safe, feeling loved, having a positive self image, and ultimately becoming all one is capable of becoming.

There is an attitude of entitlement when it comes to happiness as we define it. The message we give is that it is our God-given right to experience the endorphin rush, feel the euphoria frequently, and travel the route of happiness from physical needs to self-actualization.

The problem is, I don't see where God promises that our life focus is to be on that, nor that we are even guaranteed those things in life. Jesus made it clear that being his followers would be costly, not free and easy. He said he came to bring division, not peace, and that we must take up our cross daily and lose ourselves (Matthew 10:34-39). Suffering, not happiness as we define it, seems to be what is promised.

That is not something many, including many church leaders, want to hear. We want God to be a God who gives us what we want, how we want it, and when we want it. The problem is, of course, that when we get to demand what we want of God or when we get to tell God what God should do and how, the roles have been reversed. We then are the gods, and we are dictating to God. It doesn't work that way. God is sovereign and takes orders from no one.

We are not entitled to happiness on our own terms. God doesn't owe us that. In fact, I'll say it again, God does not care about your happiness. However, God does care about your holiness. Making God proud, bringing honor to God by striving to live a blameless life is what God cares about for you and me. The ironic twist is that when we strive to make God proud, when we pursue holiness, we find the very thing we say we're looking for in the first place. We find true and lasting joy. We will find happiness as we see how God favors us.

If you're not happy, my guess is you've tried everything else. Maybe you should try God's way to the best life possible. It comes from pursuing God's interests and ways, by seeking to live to a different standard, and seeking the sacred in daily life.

Pursue being a holy person. If you want real happiness, pursue holiness.


La Misionera said...

well said!

Steve Shade said...

Happiest serving Him. Don't recall ever expecting Him to provide my happiness - on this earth. Looking forward to the day of joy and happiness when I am finally with Him.

Anonymous said...

Thankfulness is a good place to begin the journey to both holiness and happiness.

Laura Dawson said...

Thanks for the insight, John. Great to remember when I throw my pity parties:) Laura Dawson

Beery'sBit said...

Very well said... Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying "No man can help another without helping himself." - I suspect God has wired us to response to Loving God and Loving our neighbor in such a way so as to promote a desire for holiness. Tricky guy - our Father in heaven!

Lois Jackson, Dunedin said...

WOW! Pastor John - - this was a very meaningful post for me. Thank you for listening to what God wants you to do. What timing, even though I read it late ... it was meant for me to read this at this very moment!

Sister in Christ, Lois (Jackson) Dunedin.