I wish I had a dollar for every counselee who said to me that they just wanted to be happy. I would have quiet a nest-egg. I don’t mean to seem critical of someone desiring to feel happiness about their life. Everyone wants to be happy. But the primary need of every believer is not to strive for happiness but to surrender their life to the will of the Father in order to realize inner peace.
When we make our happiness the primary issue we have a tendency to abandon God’s plan for our plan. There are several problems with making happiness our focus. C.S. Lewis said, “When happiness is identified as the most important thing, it is self that we seek above all else.”
The concept of seeking happiness above all else causes us to adopt a creed that gets us out from under the controlling arm of God. It is an attitude that says we are free to pursue that which is pleasing to us regardless of the consequences. We then develop a Cain mentality of self-satisfaction and performance based acceptance. Cain knew what God’s standard was but chose to make his own way in his own strength.
If it is true that we have a divine destiny from the foundation of the world (2 Tim 1:9), then our first response shouldn’t be the pursuit of our happiness but the pursuit of God. It is only through pursuing Him that we can realize our true destiny. The Scripture clearly teaches us that in Christ we are made complete (Col. 2). In other words true satisfaction, contentment and inner peace comes from focusing on the inner Christ.
Happiness should not be our pursuit, but rather inner peace should be our goal. Inner peace is not the sum total of good circumstances and happiness but inner peace is the result of seeking Him. I often illustrate this principle by the following two formulas:
World’s perspective: Happiness + good circumstances = Inner peace
God’s perspective: Jesus = Inner peace (regardless of circumstances or feeling of happiness)
In the first formula we have to possess a feeling of happiness and all good circumstances in order for inner peace to be a reality. How many times in your life are all your circumstances good and you have a feeling of complete happiness? The first formula sets up for failure. The second formula leads us to inner peace and then as a result we experience happiness as a by-product.
Does the Lord want his children happy? Sure he does. But he doesn’t want us to pursue happiness, because in doing so we will automatically fall into a self-gratification mode that leads to a self-absorbed life. He wants us to pursue Him and in doing so our life is filled with His joy – a joy that fills us with inner peace and a feeling of happiness and well-being.
The next time you sense a feeling of unhappiness stop and ask the question, “Is my source of unhappiness a need for self-gratification? Am I unhappy because I am not able to get my way? Do I feel something is being taken away from me?” This is your queue to surrender you situation to God’s control. Surrender and abandonment is God’s method of delivering us from our need to control every situation. When our goal is pursuing God then the outcome will be joy and a deep sense of happiness.
“…and in Him you have been made complete.” Colossians 2:10