Does God want us to be Happy?
I read a 2005 article by TIME magazine with the same title a few days ago. This article seemed to focus on whether God wants us to be materially prosperous or not. This was held up as the standard of happiness. This follows the teaching of the day - that God wants us to be happy with the world and the things in it. It is the teaching not just of eccentric Pentecostals, but the teaching of many mainline denominations today. "If God loves me then he will give me nice things."
As I read the Psalms today I was given a very different picture of true happiness. In Psalm 63, David is being pursued in the wilderness of Judah. He is being hunted down like a 12-point buck during deer hunting season! He is crying out to the LORD because he realizes that he has NO other refuge or hope. At that exact moment, God fills his heart with deep joy, peace and happiness in GOD Himself.
"O God you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water... Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you...
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."
It is great when we can enjoy the things God has made. This too is a good thing if accompanied with thanksgiving, but the true joy is not in the physically "rich food", but in soul food from God which is MUCH better. In an amazing way, struggles actually work to increase our joy in soul food and strip us from lesser pleasures.