Everybody wants to find happiness for themselves regardless of race, wealth and social standing. The poor man wants it as badly as the rich man. So does the hermit and the film star. Yet with all our yearnings to be happy, very few discover the secret to it. So how do we find happiness?
What is happiness?
Synonyms of happiness are joy, gaiety, satisfaction, pleasure, cheerfulness, merriment, etc. But such like experiences are usually temporal and we can obtain these readily through what the world offers. New clothes, a new car, success at work or play, even a newly wed spouse, all portray the promise of happiness. And even though we may seek such things, true happiness retreats like a desert mirage.
True happiness is not an emotional feeling invoked by external influence. It is rather a consciousness of joy that is one’s core and constant state of being regardless of our emotions. Those who possess true happiness have the assurance of peace that fills their heart in spite of contrary circumstances that may surround them.
The Source of Happiness
Tabloids are full of the healthy, rich and famous who are desperate for happiness. They have most of what the world can offer, yet they are not satisfied with life. The heart of man has infinite capacity, therefore, it can never find happiness with anything that has a finite value. Temporal pleasures and good health may ease many burdens of life, but they cannot supply true happiness.
The focus of self
Others try and look for it in religion and the focus of self. Eastern religious thought has infiltrated the church, teaching that to find happiness we are to “connect with ourselves, (or inner spiritual identity)”. Yet they are quick to refer you to teachings that promote various forms of worship, external activities and influences; not to glorify God in love, but to promote self well-being.
Aristotle says that “happiness depends on ourselves”. But if we could find happiness within ourselves, why would we need to search for it? Jesus said, what the heart (spirit) is filled with, the mouth will confess (Matt. 12:34). Hence, our lives will demonstrate the substance of our spirit. Therefore, if happiness existed innately then one would not need to “search within” for it, because we would already be conscious of its existence. And our very lives would demonstrate that fact.
Happiness is a product of goodness
God is eternally happy and infinitely good. He has no want because He is absolutely self-sufficient, and is perfectly content at all times. There is nothing that opposes His state of being, as He created and governs all things. He has no rival, and cannot be influenced by any external persuasion. His goodness is the cause of His happiness, and there is nothing that can be added to, or deducted from His happy state of being. God is the source of all true happiness. Therefore, without God the state of happiness cannot exist.
Man was created to be happy
God made man a moral being, and clothed him in a physical body. His creation in man was with eternal intent. That is; God made man to fellowship with Himself in His blissful, eternal kingdom.
He created man in His image and His likeness (Gen. 1:26). But He did not make us with unique happiness apart from Himself. We were not designed to be independent spiritual islands. He constructed us to live, and move, and have our being solely in Him (Acts 17:28 KJV). Hence, we do not have life within ourselves; but He has breathed and maintains the breath of life within each one of us. It is His Spirit of life within us that gives us our existence.
Now we not only obtain and maintain our lives through Him, but, because God is infinitely happy within Himself, we also, being created in Him, share His happiness. This is His intention for all of His created moral beings. Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy (happiness) may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).
Man’s fall from happiness
But man fell from God’s fellowship through sin, and subsequently forfeited his infinite state of happiness.
Even though God lives in eternal bliss in Himself, He does not exist in a universal state of goodness, but rather, the universal state of His kingdom derives its goodness from Him. Everything He does is governed by His laws of righteousness. It is therefore, from this state of righteousness that all moral beings live in perfect benevolence and partake of God’s infinitely happy state.
Free will to choose
Now all moral beings possess a free will to choose. For, without the power of choice, there can be no virtue. (For what virtue would there be in any being serving God in loving obedience, if they never had the power of choice?)
Therefore, it is man’s privilege and obligation to choose right from wrong; benevolence from selfishness; faithfulness to God’s word from disobedience. Nevertheless, man chose to disobey God’s word in favor of his own selfishness, and through this, fell from God’s eternal state of happiness, incurring as a result, just and eternal condemnation.
How to find the way back to happiness
But, in God’s foreknowledge, He anticipated man’s fall, and in His eternal plan He made provision to restore the fallen to Himself. And even though transgression of His infinitely holy laws of righteousness deserves eternal retribution, He made a way through the atonement of the eternal Christ to pay for our sins and that, without transgressing His own laws of righteousness.
Therefore, those who exercise faith in Christ alone are the ones reconciled to God. And through this reconciliation we are reinstated to be partakers of His divine nature (2Pet. 1:4), and consequently, sharers of His infinite happiness.
For more on exercising the faith that leads to repentance and reconciliation with God go here.
Our happiness is the direct result of the reality of our faith in the Person of Jesus Christ. (Or as Paul says: “Spirit of Christ”(Rom. 8:9)). And to the measure that we walk in true saving faith in Him, to that measure we will be partakers of His happiness.
This is because when we exercise true saving faith in Christ, our spirit within that was once dead, becomes quickened to life in Him. His Spirit that is now quickened in us becomes us – to that measure that we walk in Him. Now to have the Spirit of Christ within is to have the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy (happiness), peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; (Gal 5:22-23). This is the only way that we can find true and lasting happiness.
But what about bad times?
Times of sadness, being forsaken or forgotten (or both) will always be there. Troubles may be on every side at times. No one is immune to these. Not even our Lord Jesus was when He walked among us.
I do not say that we will not get tempted to become despondent, or feel rejected, or have sad moments. But whatever our situation, if we continue to walk in Christ we will have the peace that surpasses understanding (Php 4:7). Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (1John 4:4).
The happiness that we have through God cannot diminish. Despondency cannot become desperation when our faith assures us that God is with us.
This is not wishful thinking from vain imaginations. We do not simply quote a scripture verse, or declare a bold statement of triumph and all troubles disappear. That is what foolish religiosity does, but it has no power. It only leaves you doubtful of everything you hear from the pulpit and read in God’s Word. Nevertheless, many will still continue in false religiosity despite there being no power manifested by it.
The answer lies in becoming acquainted with the reality of God in our lives. This changes us. God makes His presence known to us and gives us boldness to resist sin and the world, and to walk in unity with Him, knowing that we live according to His will, whatever it may be for us.
Joy inexpressible and full of glory fills our hearts. (1Pet. 1:8). It therefore becomes impossible for the enemy to subdue us and pull us into the vortex of sin and consequent despair. But it takes learning how to exercise true faith in Christ. (See also How to grow your faith)
We cannot find happiness by any means, either externally or internally if it is by our own doing. We were created to be happy, but that happiness is not our own. It is God’s. Our faithful walk in Him therefore, is the only way that we can truly be happy. Apart from this, we will be left having to be content with false beliefs and temporal external influences to obtain any fleeting self-gratification. For the religions and offerings of this world can never produce a lasting happiness for man.
But God offers happiness to everyone who repents of their life and comes to the knowledge of the truth in Christ (1Tim. 2:4). His infinite happiness is available for the sharing.
Testimony of Dr. William Lane Craig
Dr. William Lane Craig shares his excellent testimony about how he found true happiness only in God.
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- To fully grasp the weight of this doctrine one requires an in depth knowledge of the essence of Christ and the nature and relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit ↩