“As long as you’re happy.” seems to be a common theme in our culture. We seek happiness at every turn. In every part of our lives we strive to make ourselves, and those we love, happy.
What if I told you that I care very little about your happiness? The truth is, my goal for the people around me is not that they live happy lives. I believe the pursuit of happiness has become an epidemic, as we have tossed everything else aside in order to be “happy”.
The pursuit of happiness has infested every area of our society: relationships, occupations, religion, education, etc. Happiness is such a shallow and relatively unattainable goal on its own. Yet we reach for it and turn to it as an answer to all of the big questions in life. For a nation that spends so much time seeking after happiness, is anyone actually happy? At the end of the day can anyone honestly say that they have arrived- that they have truly attained all that would make them happy?
I want something so much more than happiness for the people I love. I want them to live God-glorifying lives and to live forever in His presence when their time on this earth is finished. If that is the goal, we need to pursue something much more worthy than happiness, which will fade when real life hits. If you are living life to the full, you will probably have many unhappy times. What will replace the happiness is a peace because you know you are right with God. What results from peace is true joy, which is better than the momentary happiness of this world.
I want the people I love to have joy rather than happiness. When my friends choose men or women to spend their lives with I want them to focus on finding people who passionately love God. I do not wish for them to find guys and girls who “make them happy”. There is so much more at stake than your happiness right now. Will he lead your home? Will she love you with a Godly submission? Would he die for you, as Christ did for the church? Will she raise your children for Heaven? Will he provide for you? Will she keep your home? Will he teach your children daily to love God? Is she worthy of praise? Is he a man after God’s own heart? Read Ephesians 5:22-33.
“Godly marriages proceed from an obedient heart, and the greatest desire of an obedient heart is the glory of God, not the happiness of the household.” -Douglas Wilson
When the people I love seek a church to worship with I don’t want them to find a church that makes them happy. I recently heard about someone telling a group of young people to make sure the church they chose made them “comfortable”. Well, it is not the church’s main concern to make you comfortable or to make you happy. The Church’s job is to glorify God and to save the lost. There is very little room for personal “happiness” when the goal is to please Jesus Christ, the One who died for the church, considering the fact that what makes me happy may be very different from what makes you happy. There is very little comfort in saving the lost from a dying world, when you consider that we are at war with the worst evil in existence in order to save those lost. But there is plenty of peace and joy in knowing that you are worshiping the Holy God the way HE loves to be worshiped. And there is plenty of peace and joy in knowing you did everything in your power to bring the lost to Him.
I fear that even the church has fallen into the happiness epidemic to some extent- adding all kinds of special groups, fun programs, and watered down teaching to draw more people in. If this culture of fun is supposed to save more people, why are the young people leaving in droves? Isn’t the church making them happy enough? Or maybe there’s something to be said about the simplicity of Biblical teaching and God-focused (rather than ME-focused) worship.
As the people I love choose a career/education path I do not want them to pick based on making themselves happy. I hope that they will choose their career based on the desire to use the talents and passions God has given them to glorify Him and to provide for the people they are responsible for.(1 Tim. 5:8)
When making entertainment choices, I hope the people I love will shun what is evil and cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9) The fact that a form of entertainment makes you happy is not enough of a reason to let sin into your life. It is not worth a laugh to be accepting of what you know to be wrong. Your soul is not worth losing over entertaining yourself for happiness rather than for edification.
I do not wish many friends upon the people I love for the purpose of happiness. The people you let intimately into your life will shape who you are. (1 Cor. 15:33) You may be happy and popular but headed toward destruction. It would be better to live without friends than to be led into a shallow lifestyle dependent on friendships. I want the people I love to be able and willing to stand alone when they have to. And I want them to cling to the edifying, true friendships they are blessed with- those friendships that lead them toward Heaven.
I don’t want happiness from wealth for the people I love. (Mark 10:25) There is something to be said about living within your means and being content with “food and covering”. (1 Tim 6:8) If you cannot have joy in poverty, you won’t have happiness in wealth.
Chasing happiness leads to an unfulfilled and destructive life. Seeking to glorify God leads to a life of joy. Really, the truly happy times in life are a result of the true joy that comes from doing what’s right- not from spending life in the pursuit of happiness.
So my hope for you is not a life filled with chasing happiness. I hope that you will chase after what you were created to accomplish. I hope you will pursue glorifying God with your life.
“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commands, for this is the whole of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13
By Miranda Trujillo