Being a mom of five sons, there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my boys happy. Their smiles, their laughter, their pure enjoyment of life, these are things that make my heart full of joy. I delight in their delight. That said, as much as their happiness brings me happiness, I know that their idea of happiness isn’t always a great representation of true happiness.
As you can imagine, life with a house full of boys is a household full of incredibly impulsive behaviors. I have rescued more than one boy from sailing down the stairs in a plastic box, despite their insistence that I was “spoiling all the fun.” And I have saved our family pet, many times, from being taken along on a ride on a skateboard or over a bike ramp, or some such other “awesome” experience.Of course I want my children to be happy. But I know their happiness comes with boundaries, boundaries created for their safety and ultimately their long-term enjoyment of life.
It’s the same way with God.
He is the one who gave us the deep desire for happiness. He delights in our delight.
In fact, He tells us to be happy more times in scripture than any other command. Just think about that for a moment. Commands such as “rejoice,” “be of good cheer,” “do not be afraid,” “give thanks,” these are all ways of God telling us to be happy.
And just as we know our children need boundaries to experience true happiness, God knows our happiness can only be found inside His boundaries for us.
God’s commands are our instructions for happiness.
The things in our lives that lead to misery are all things that happen outside of God’s will — pride, selfishness, unforgiveness, lifelong patterns of specific sins. However, the things that lead to happiness are all part of following and obeying God. Inside His will we find loving relationships, healthy community, unselfishness, a sense of wonder and awe, and gratitude.
The secret of happiness isn’t the great mystery of the universe.
Happiness comes when we seek God and obey Him in faith. But happiness seems so elusive, doesn’t it? So many books have been written about finding happiness because so many people are still searching for it.
But I believe that God not only wants us to be happy, I believe He created us to be happy. His Word is so clear about our path to happiness.
Our Happiness Is in His Strength
Psalm 84:5 (HCSB) says,
Happy are the people whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
God is our strength, and our happiness is found there, in Him. I’m a pretty logical thinker, so it makes sense to me that when we try to live our lives on our own strength, we won’t find happiness. We are more likely to live lonely, wrestle worry, fight fear, and dwell in despair. God’s strength allows us to surrender the weight of our worry to Him and walk in the joy of that freedom.
Our Happiness is In Our Obedience
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law. — Proverbs 29:18 (NASB)
I find comfort in guardrails. They keep me driving in the direction I want to go, and prevent me from veering wildly off the edge of the cliff. Without the restraint of those rails, I will surely lose my way. That is how I feel about God’s law. It is not a set of rules to keep me from enjoying life. On the contrary, I find security, comfort, and joy in knowing He knows what is best for me.
Our Happiness Comes in Helping Others
I have one of those mirrors that makes everything look way larger than it really is. I look in the mirror and any small flaw seems infinitely larger than life. Anytime I focus on myself, it’s easy to become obsessed with what’s wrong with my life. But when I focus on the needs of others, I find that my own problems don’t seem so big. I think maybe this is what King Solomon meant in Ecclesiastes 3:12 when he said,
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. (emphasis added)
Doing good to others is certainly a key component of being happy.
Our Happiness is in Our Faith
Henry David Thoreau said, “Everyone needs to believe in something.” Turns out, his words are backed up by the American Psychological Association who says that, “People are inherently wired to believe in something supernatural. It provides a sense of peace and well-being to know that our world has an intentional design.” In short, it gives us hope that the world is going to be okay. God’s Word (the most important source) agrees in Luke 1:45 (CEB) which says,
Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises He made to her.
Our faith provides a foundation that gives our world order. Reading the promises of God and then trusting He will fulfill them generates hope, and hope is a powerful happiness generator.
God created us for happiness, and the only way we will find true happiness in this world is to seek Holy Happiness, the happiness that comes from leaning steadfastly into our God who loves us and wants what is best for us in all seasons of our life.
As we find our strength in Him, trusting in His Word and loving others selflessly, we will find that happiness is not so elusive after all. Happiness is not a wordly-trait. It’s a gift from a God who delights in the joy of His children.
Original editorial written for Devotionals Daily by Alli Worthington, author of The Year of Living Happy.
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Did you know that God designed us to be happy? That He delights when we delight? That He rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17) which means He created us in His image to rejoice and sing, too? Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full