By Joel Hess –
The point of life is to be happy, right? Surely God wants us to be happy. We hear this from people today desperately trying to justify their desires before God and others. But we also hear this from people who are just desiring good things in life; like the recently divorced man wanting to get married again ASAP, or the childless couple who will go to any extreme to have kids whatever technology can afford. Really, I have the right to be happy! Surely God wants me to be happy!
This right to happiness has been embedded in the fabric of American society as our sacred political scriptures declare ….and the pursuit of happiness! Yet, here we are at the end of our legal rope due to the pursuit of such an unmeasurable virtue as happiness. One can’t govern a country with the pursuit of happiness as the mission statement!
Sadly, the right to pursue happiness has pervaded the Christian church if you listen to many popular preachers and read meme theology. Even I have found myself in a desperate desire to comfort the suffering by telling them God would make them happy one day.
Dear reader, I’m sorry to break this to you, although I think you kind of know this deep in the recesses of your heart as you have observed the tragedy of life. So let’s drop the crap! The goal of life is not to be happy!
For sure God gives out happiness occasionally in a cold beer, a warm embrace and watching a little boy first learning to ride his bike. I don’t want to take those moments from you. But if you think the goal God has in your life is for you to be happy, you will be sorely disappointed.
The point of life is not to be happy! Of course I’m arguing against the pursuit of unnatural and ungodly desires, desires that nearly all religions deem wrong, let alone their logical and scientific invalidity. But even desires that are good, normal, and may even make you happy: you don’t have a right to fulfill them. Desires such as getting married again, having a child, getting a job that really utilizes all your talents, etc.: these are not guarantees! These are not rights! God does not promise them nor encourage you to chase them down no matter the cost so you may be happy! You very well may not be fruitful and multiply in this age! Sorry.
It is God, after all, who tells Peter and all of his disciples who wanted to be happy, “if any of you want to follow me you must pick up your cross, too. If anyone finds his life in this world he will lose it, and he who loses his life in this world for my sake will find it.” Put that on your happy church welcome web page. Being a Christian does not guarantee happiness in this age! But don’t believe people who say they are happy because they do what they want. They aren’t either!
Last night I enjoyed the movie, Fury, starring Brad Pitt. It is a movie about a Tank crew who found themselves alone and facing a whole SS battalion near the end of WWII. They could have abandoned their assignment and hid, thus saving their lives and going home to their wives and kids and being happy. Yet Pitt’s character decided to ‘defend this junction’ no matter the cost, even to his life. He didn’t do it because it made him happy. He didn’t do it because it was the perfect job that fit his talents as he and the others joked saying, “This is the best job I’ve ever had.” He did it because it was the right thing to do.
The goal of life is not to live long, any more than it is to be happy. The goal of life is not to do all the things you want to do, to fulfill your little bourgeois bucket list. If these things are your goals then you will be very disappointed as death takes you earlier than you expected or when all these things that make you happy are removed.
Jesus says, “I have come so that you may have LIFE and have it abundantly!”
This is not the same as happiness! Though knowing this and trusting His promises may indeed make you happy from time to time. In Him we may eat and be satisfied, drink and never thirst again.
I suppose I misspoke. God’s goal eventually is that you will be happy! But not happy because you got a great job, successful marriage, roof over your head, or great health. Rather you will be happy because your sins are forgiven and you shall rise again! Oh yes, happiness is coming! Not by you pursuing it, but by God giving it! On the last day, when happiness is revealed face to face at the coming of our Lord and He makes all things new! Then yes, when faith is done, hope is replaced with reality, we will be happy! Come Lord Jesus.
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