Our joy will always be at risk if it is dependent upon things that we look to instead of Jesus because we are always at risk of losing them. The thrill fades away. The moment is over. The thing breaks. The experience disappoints. The person leaves. But Jesus has promised to give us a joy that doesn’t burn out, fade out, check out or sell out so we don’t have to miss out on real and lasting happiness that is only found in Him. Though every other form of happiness will inevitably leave or forsake us, He never will. In Jesus, we are offered a joy that can never be taken from us no matter what else is.
The ultimate goal of our lives is for God to be honored in us and us to be happy in Him. There isn’t anything higher to aspire to than the duality of God’s honor and our happiness. When we thank Him, trust Him, and treasure Him, these two things are achieved. Thanking Him means our hearts are glad because of something He gets glory for doing. Trusting Him means we delight to do what God has decided because we believe that He is good. Treasuring Him means we find enjoyment in His companionship because He is infinitely worth knowing. To seek His honor is to seek our happiness.
Every single day you and I should do whatever it takes to be happier in Jesus. That’s how we win against temptation, frustration and dissatisfaction in this life. The attempts we make to improve ourselves, improve our circumstances, and improve our lives should not simply be about trying to take away things we dislike and add in things we do like. Instead, our goal should be to know and enjoy Jesus more and more and more. We grow in our inner peace, rest, security, confidence, hope and joy not because over and over we figure out a way to make things better, but because over and over we find our way to Jesus.
When we are secure in our identity in Christ, we are free to have relationships that are not defined by comparing ourselves with others, but by caring for others. If our sense of personal worth comes from how God feels about us, treats us, and remakes us as His children, then we don’t have to prove ourselves in categories of better and worse, more and less, or ahead and behind in how we measure up against the people in our lives. Instead of ranking ourselves as better off than others or resenting others who we think are better off than ourselves, we can joyfully love and serve them as equal image-bearers of God.
It is defined in different ways. It is pursued in different ways. It is measured in different ways. But what happiness has in common no matter how it is defined, pursued and measured is this: every single human being wants it. The message of the world is to “do what you want to do and be who you want to be” and this will make you happy. Only it … Does. Not. Work. The message of Jesus is “do what I want you to do and be who I made you to be.” In doing so, we will experience His joy, and our joy can be full no matter what else is happening in our lives. Want to be happy? His. Way. Works.
You can look all around and conclude that God is absent or that He is present. May He give us spiritual eyes that see… Not just the beauty of a sunset, but the God who paints the sky. Not just the miracle of a baby’s birth, but the God who brings things to life. Not just the taste of a great meal, but the God who invented flavors. Not just the satisfaction of achieving a goal, but the God who empowers us to do so. Not just a lovely wedding, but the God who created marriage. Not just a great day, but the God who offers us eternal life. Shining through every good and right and true thing we see is an ever-present God.
The enemy of your soul doesn’t care about you. His only interest in you is as a victim. He wants to “steal and kill and destroy,” and a primary way he attempts to do this is by leading you astray. How? By making sin look attractive, and obedience seem restrictive. He wants you and me to believe that sin isn’t sin, that sin is worth it, that sin isn’t that serious, and that sin won’t cost too much. Jesus leads our lives to deliver us from sin and deliver to us abundant life now and eternal life later. When He calls us to follow Him in loving obedience, it is not because He’s a tyrant; it’s because He intends to set us free from one.
It is right to enjoy the good gifts of God in the way that He designed them to be enjoyed because that’s why He gives them to us. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the created world are supposed to be enjoyed because God made them to send and made us to receive … pleasure. But rather than enjoying them too little (ingratitude) or too much (idolatry), let us enjoy them as they were intended, as a catalyst for treasuring the Gift-Giver far beyond what He might give to us. The gifts that God sends us are wonderful; but they are nowhere near as wonderful as Him. He is the real gift!
If our contentment depends upon our lives being full of good times and good things, we’re going to ride a roller coaster of highs and lows. We will never be satisfied for long. Why not? Because we will find that the details of our lives are constantly changing so that we often have what we don’t want or want what we don’t have. Jesus offers us something infinitely better… His unchanging presence. His unchanging promises. His unchanging provision. This doesn’t mean life won’t have its ups and downs. It means whatever life is like, we will find the lasting satisfaction we fail to find elsewhere when we look to Jesus.
God wants us to be happy. When He tells us in the Bible to do, say, correct, believe, feel, think or share something, it is not to take away our happiness; it is to take away the things that are in the way of our full and lasting happiness. We must trust that God is after our happiness, that He knows best how to bring about our happiness, and that what He tells us in the Bible is designed to lead us into happiness. Doing what God tells us is not always easy, popular or instantly gratifying. But it is always for good, always better in the end than sin, and always the best option for making us truly, ultimately, and eternally happy.
By grace, God serves up an endless feast of soul-nourishing, soul-delighting blessings for those who trust in Jesus. This includes: forgiveness, friendship, freedom, wisdom, power, peace, purpose, joy, hope, security, rest, justice, thankfulness, assurance, deliverance, guidance, significance, endurance, comfort, companionship, care, courage, transformation, satisfaction, love and life. And this is not a complete list! The countless implications and applications of the benefits that are ours by grace are staggering and extend from now until eternity. It’s a buffet, not a bite. In Jesus, we have the life we’ve always wanted.