What does happiness look like to you?
For some, it’s the brand-new car, the promotion at work, feeling like you are being valued by your workplace and being given a pay rise. For others, it’s the knowledge that you’ve worked hard on your projects, that you’ve done your job immaculately and professionally. And still yet, for others, its family, loved ones, setting time aside from busy social calendars to rest and recuperate. And, certainly, there is something cathartic about spending money you have worked hard to earn.
Whatever form your happiness takes, is it good?
In our Chinese culture, we are groomed from young to believe that academic achievements and money are worth pursuing. Many of us were high achievers in school, and many of us hated family gatherings where we’d hear about how amazing our Aunt’’s children were, the ones that got good grades and went to top universities, later marrying rich, etc, etc.
There have been many times where I’ve felt that Chinese culture can be so opposite to what God values. 1 Timothy 6:10 teaches us that the love of money is the root of evil, and Matthew 6:24 tells us that we cannot serve two masters, but that isn’t limited to money.
What if our hearts desire other things? What if our idols are different?
Last year, I developed deep feelings for a non-Christian. I had to learn to recognise that I was beginning to hold my affections for him as an idol in competition with my relationship with God. I almost became resentful of my choice to choose God and let go of a potential relationship with him.
A friend of mine asked me, “But if it makes you happy, wouldn’t God be ok with it? Doesn’t God want you to be happy?”
I’ll be honest – I was stumped for a while.
How can we believe God loves us, if he ask us to give up the things that make us happy?
I think about the time that God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the child who God had promised and provided to Abraham in his old age. Abraham was willing to obey God without knowing the full plan, even if it meant breaking his heart and ending the promise God gave him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. And yet, God provides.
I believe God emphatically wants us to be happy. His Word promises us that He has plans for us, and that we are His children, formed by him, and redeemed through the sacrifice of His blood. So, what is the happiness of this world in comparison to eternity with Christ? If God has a plan for us, surely His plans are good. If we believe God loves us to the point of the cross, then yes, I believe God has views on our earthly happiness as well as our eternity.
The Bible reminds us that our battle is not just against flesh and blood, but over the spiritual realms as well. Amidst the distractions of the enemy, God gave us free will to choose Him and happiness with Him in the present now, and for eternity. Happiness with God may not always look the way the world says it should. Perhaps we don’t always see things the way God does But if He knows the very hairs on our heads, and counts us worthy, I believe He wants us to be happy.
I end with directing you to read Hebrews Chapter 12.