When I lived in New Orleans, I fully planned to die there. I loved the city and still do. Some might ask the question, “Why did you move if you loved it so much?” Quite frankly, I felt like God called me to go home and so I did. That would lead to the next question, “Why would God do that? Doesn’t He want you to be happy?”
The question of whether God wants Christians to be happy is an interesting one for sure. Some people today like to think that God is genie-like and there to give them what they want. They may think He is all about their happiness in this life here and now and that He’d never ask them to do something they didn’t enjoy. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is more widespread than we’d want to think.
When we think of God wanting us to be happy there are several things for us to consider.
God Knows Everything
There is not one thing God doesn’t know. He knows everything about everything. He knows every hypothetical. Got knows what a life for me in New Orleans would have looked like and He knows what a life in Kentucky looks like. Because God is working out His good purposes for our lives, He puts us where He wants us to achieve His desired results. He also puts things and situations in our lives that will achieve His desired results. This brings me to my next point.
God Wants You to Be Holy
God is far more concerned about your holiness than your happiness. As Christians, our ultimate aim in this life is to look more like Jesus. This means killing sin. Making me physically and materially happy in this life most likely won’t produce Christ-likeness in me. That’s not to say God won’t bless us physically and materially, but that is not His chief aim.
God may put me in a job that I don’t enjoy to produce a characteristic in me that He desires. He may put me in a location that wasn’t my choice to put me around people that will help me grow to look more like Jesus. He may allow me some sort of sickness or disability so that I more fully rely on Him.
God is concerned with your holiness, period. The natural question or objection then is, “But I’m His child, shouldn’t He want my happiness?”
God Wants You to Be Happy in Him
God does want you to be happy, but maybe not in the way that you want you to be happy. God wants your joy to be found in the finished work of Jesus. No matter your circumstance, God wants you to realize He is enough. He wants you to rely on Him. He wants you to realize this isn’t the life you’re living for. Eternity with Him is the goal.
This is why Stephen prayed for God not to hold the sins of his killers against them. This is why Paul could sing in jail. This is why Peter could request to be crucified upside down. This is why many people give up their lives for the sake of Jesus. True joy is found in Christ— not in our circumstances.
God is for you, but He knows far better what you need than you do. God is for you, but He didn’t save you so you could have your best life now. God is for you so He gave you the one thing that could truly make you happy— namely, His Son.
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4