The pursuit of happiness

Gareth Davies writes:

Everyone on earth is on a pursuit for happiness. Each and everyone of you reading this blog is pursuing happiness. All of your friends and family members are pursuing happiness. The human race is in one giant pursuit for happiness.

I’ve recently got back from the USA. While I was there, I got to visit Las Vegas. There were many things I liked about Vegas but fundamentally it was just a bunch of people trying to find happiness. Some were there trying to find happiness in alcohol and drinking themselves silly. Others were looking for happiness in gambling and trying to make money in the casinos. There were those looking for happiness in sex and taking advantage of the number of call girls that were on offer on many street corners.

As Christians, we are often little different to the people in Vegas. Maybe you are someone who is trying to find happiness in alcohol or drugs, in sex or whatever your mates are doing. Perhaps you try to find happiness in our families, you try to find happiness in sport, you try to find happiness in your school or college course, you try to find happiness in money and you can try to find happiness in our holidays. You could be someone who tries to find happiness in church, find happiness in attending as many meetings as you can each week, you can try and find happiness in all sorts of different ways. I’m sure some of you can identify with a number of those things but we’re so, so foolish. The reason we’re foolish is we’re like the world in that we end up trying to find happiness in the creation rather than the creator.

Where should we try to find happiness?

Our pursuit of happiness should begin and end with God. He alone makes us happy. David reminds us of this in one of my favourite Psalms, Psalm 16. He understood that true happiness is found in God alone. Like us, there were times when he strayed from that and tried to find happiness in other things but in his heart, he knew that true happiness is found in God alone:

God was David’s happiness in life

David knew that God was his only happiness. In verse one of the Psalm, he testifies that he has no good apart from God. Nothing is good, nothing satisfies apart from God. He says in verse 5 that God is “my inheritance”, “portion”, “my cup”; What he’s basically saying is that God is all I want. That’s quite something for someone to say. He was lined up to be king of Israel but he knows that isn’t what will make him happy. That’s very different to my attitude! So often I want God plus lots of other things. I want this and that. I try and find happiness in all sorts of different things other than God.

David says, true happiness is found in God. That’s not to say that we can’t enjoy the things that God has given us but rather that we should know and act like God is our true happiness. Do you live like that? Can you say that God alone is your happiness? Is God the source, the joy and the centre of your life?

God was David’s happiness in death

I don’t know if you’ve read the Harry Potter books or not. They give us a fascinating insight into the world’s insight with death, basically showing us that the world does everything it can to avoid death because it fears death. David tells us that the Christian is different and has great hope & joy in death. David shows us this in verses 9 and 10 of the Psalm. It’s a prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus. Peter quotes these verses in his great sermon on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and applies them to the death & resurrection of our Saviour. In Jesus’s death & resurrection we have great joy in death. Having paid the price of our sins, Jesus died. They placed Him in the grave and put a stone in the front of it. His body was as it were, in danger of entering into corruption. That is what happens to bodies normally: as soon as they are put into the grave they begin to decay. Not our Lords. He was different. This was proven on that 3rd morning when he rose again from the dead because it wasn’t possible for death to keep hold of him. I don’t know where you’re at as you read this but know that Jesus is no longer in a tomb in Palestine. He has risen from the dead and that is why you can have happiness in death – your Redeemer lives! That happiness is assured because God the Son has beaten death. He has conquered death. He has defeated death so that just as he was risen from the dead, we too know that we will be risen from the dead too.

God would be David’s happiness in heaven

David also reminds us in this Psalm (verse 11) that God was David’s happiness in eternity. I used to worry that I’d find heaven boring because I wasn’t sure if there’d be sport in heaven. Thankfully, I’ve grown up a little since then and now understand that sport will be the least of my concerns in heaven because there will be someone much more amazing to take my attention.

We have much to look forward to. We have an eternity to spend with God. There in the place of honour at God’s right hand we will find fullness of joy. Total happiness.

God has deliberately not given us this fullness of joy here and now. Even though we can find true happiness in God on this earth, when we are in heaven we will have total happiness. Here we have happiness that is tinged with the pain & suffering of this dark dirty world. We have happiness that is stained by the hurt and trials of sin. One day all of that will be taken away and we will have total happiness. That’s because when we are with God, all of those things that take away our happiness won’t be there any more. Death, pain, sadness, trials, our own limitations, and our own sinfulness will all be gone and we’ll be left with God – the source of true happiness.

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:3,4

This is an amended version of a post on the Bud Wales blog.