Does God Want Me to Be Happy?
Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you. 1 Chronicles 17:2
Does God want us to be happy? I’ve encountered two answers to this in church. I’ve heard some well-meaning Christians insist that we should pursue our desires because ultimately, God just wants us to be happy. Contrarily, I’ve heard others claim that God cares nothing about our happiness. He is only concerned with His will.
God of course, is intensely interested in both His will and in our joy. We were made to know joy, peace, love and goodness, but it is His will that we experience those things the right way. This means we are not simply to do whatever we want, as that is a sure route to misery and destruction. We were made to be filled with God’s spirit, thus knowing joy and fulfillment the right way.
In today’s passage, David had a passion for something: He wanted to build a temple for God. I live in a beautiful house, but the ark of God resides in a tent. God should have a nicer home. Instead of blindly following his feelings, David consulted the prophet Nathan, who confirmed that David should follow his heart.
The mistake we could make in reading this passage is to think that God always wants us to follow our heart. Those of us who have known profoundly destructive desires though, know that is a lie, similar to saying that whatever food we crave must be healthy.
The problem is that our desires are not a moral compass. Our desires are simply our desires. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are disastrous. Like David, we must interrogate our passions, using some outside, objective source as a measuring stick to see if a thing is right or wrong.
We think we pursue joy when we do what we want, but that is a shortcut to immediate gratification that always ends in some misery. It is only in pursuing God, sowing the seeds of His spirit in us, that we grow true love, joy and peace. This is God’s will for us.