Have you ever wondered whether God wants you to be happy? A popular concept found in many Christian books says that “God has good things in store for you. God wants you to enjoy life and prosper and be happy.” This reduces the God of the universe to a cosmic Santa Claus. We say a little prayer to inform Him what’s on our list, then if what we asked for doesn’t appear under the tree, we can blame Him, because He’s failed to make us happy.
In fact, there are two things that the Bible says God wants from us: First, God wants us to accept His Son as our Savior: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord.”1
Next, God wants us to “become like His Son.”2. He often accomplishes this by bringing situations into our lives that refine us and chip away at our flaws. That’s not always fun and doesn’t always make us feel “happy.”
On the other hand, Jesus’ first recorded sermon is all about happiness! In the Sermon on the Mount,3 Jesus lists nine things that will make His followers makarios, which appears over 50 times in the New Testament and is often translated as “happy” or “blissful.”
However, Jesus’ definition of happiness is different from ours. It’s not an elusive emotion or grounded in physical and material things. In his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis observed that it’s futile to seek happiness apart from God: “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. … That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”
So does God want you to be happy? Yes, He does. But He doesn’t want you to seek fleeting happiness on your own. Rather, He wants you to experience the true happiness and lasting joy that only He can give. “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!”4
- Philippians 2:9–11 NLT
- Romans 8:29 NLT
- See Matthew 5:1–12.
- Psalm 144:15