Everyone wants to be happy, deep down inside.
Even the Declaration of Independence prioritizes happiness: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The British novelist, William Boyd, once said, “We all want to be happy, and we’re all going to die.” And Augustine wrote, “Everyone, whatever his condition, desires to be happy.” The French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal said, “All men seek happiness. This is without exception.”
You may be surprised to know that God wired us that way. We can and should be happy, according to the Bible. We simply need to look for it in the right place.
Too many people today are looking for happiness where they won’t find it—then wrongly concluding that happiness is something they can’t achieve. But the only place to find real, lasting happiness is in a relationship with God.
People often look for happiness in four things that ultimately disappoint them.
Sure, technology and some material things can improve our lives, but they won’t really get us the satisfaction we crave. In the book of Proverbs, we read, “Just as death and destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied” (27:20 NLT).
Americans spend billions each year on cosmetic surgery. And some experts believe the rise of cosmetic surgery is due to the selfie. We’re taking more photos of ourselves than ever before and using Photoshop, Instagram filters, and other enhancements to project a desired image. But the sad truth is no matter the work done or filters used, we’ll always find someone more attractive than us.
We’re wired for relationship, for friendship, for intimacy. But if you think that a spouse or best friend will make you happy, then you’re in for a big shock (maybe even before the honeymoon is over)!
If you’re looking for happiness in a relationship, you’re asking people to do something they never can—meet all of your emotional needs.
Pursuing pleasure will never bring lasting happiness. God blesses many pleasures in this life and calls them good. But there are also perverse pleasures that the Bible calls “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).
Eventually, the repercussions of sin outweigh the pleasure. That is why the Bible says that she “who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6). In practice, living for pleasure is one of the least pleasurable things you can do.
In contrast, the people who know God are the happiest.
Sadness has its place, especially when you’re mourning someone you love. It’s a process in which we have to cry out to God and deal with these things. But even amid sorrow, even while mourning, you can still have deep-seated happiness. It doesn’t come from what you have or don’t have. It comes from knowing God.
There are 2,700 biblical passages that contain words like joy, happiness, pleasure, laughter, gladness, feasting, and celebration.
We will always be able to find someone or something to blame for our bitter outlook on life. But if we want to find true God-given happiness, we need to forgive those who have wronged us. We need to start thinking biblically. Then we will discover true and lasting happiness.
Consider the apostle Paul, who wrote the book of Philippians while he was living in Rome.
The Rome of Paul’s day was a much different place. Nero was in power, probably the worst of the Caesars. He became progressively bloodthirsty and took perverse pleasure in torturing and murdering followers of Jesus Christ.
Paul was living in chains, yet he was brimming with joy while writing to the Christians in Philippi. His case was coming up shortly, and he didn’t know how it would turn out. He might be acquitted. He might be beheaded. He originally wanted to preach in Rome, but he ended up as a prisoner there.
Paul’s life shows us that we can have great happiness despite our present situations. And we can do the same.
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Read more in Pastor Greg’s interview with Fox News.
Used with permission from Greg Laurie.