God wants us to be happy. This statement has become controversial in Christian circles as of late. I think people are reacting to the resurgence of popularity of “the power of positive thinking” type of preaching and teaching. There certainly is an unhealthy focus on the self in our society. Too much self-fulfillment, not enough self-sacrifice. That being said, it’s important not to confuse an unhealthy and unholy emphasis on individualism and consumer-Christianity with the Biblical witness that clearly and consistently teaches that God created humans for meaningful, purpose-filled, happy lives.
Happiness represents God’s hope for the creatures he made in his image. The Book of Psalms, that wonderful collection of poetry that is handed down to us from ancient Israel, through the Church, is a rich tapestry of praise, thanksgiving, supplication, complaint, lamentation, and prayer. The Psalms capture a full range of human emotion and reaction to God and life circumstances. At times the Psalms are exultant, other times they are depressing. This “prayer book of the early church” begins with the word “Happy.”
“Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves to not wither. In all that they do, they prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3 NRSV).
The psalmist describes the kind of flourishing life we find if we choose to follow the revealed will of God taught in Scripture. God wants your life to be filled with happiness, he made you, he knows how life works, he desires that you would thrive, prosper, and experience a life of blessing. When we rely on our own limited wisdom and understanding, we fall into selfish, sinful, and sad ways of living. We don’t want that!
So, you want to be happy? Everyone does. God’s way is always best. He loves us and wants us to discover a life filled with blessing so that he can use us to be a blessing to others.