Trusting God With Our Happiness
The Theory of Joy, or rather the theory of how to obtain and live in joy, begins, like all things, with faith. In this case, it is trusting God with your happiness. This is the turning point in one's life as a believer in Jesus Christ. If you completely trust God with your happiness - that is, believe that following his way will bring more contentment and satisfaction to you than any way you can devise for yourself - then no evil will have a grip on you.
Do you trust God with your happiness?
As simple as this question is, the answer for many believers is not a simple yes. A residue of distrust in God resides in their thinking. Some people who suspect the truth of the Gospel resist it for this very reason. There are others who acknowledge the Gospel's truth or even profess it as their creed, but neither seek nor do the will of God, because the answer to this question for them is more no than yes.
Trusting God in anything is simply a matter of faith. For personal happiness or what the King James translation (KJV) calls joy, it is -
- faith in his love,
- faith in his wisdom,
- faith in his justice,
- faith that these three together are sufficient for us.
The extent of one's trusts in God is evident by his actions. James says by the Holy Spirit -
I will show thee my faith by my works. [Ja 2:18 KJV]
As explained in The FAQs About Faith, faith is more than acknowledgement of certain facts, but a judgment about who God is. It's personal, not mechanical, and includes loyalty, or as the KJV puts it, faithfulness. If we place our faith in God, it is because we judge him to be faithful - worthy of our trust.
For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. [He 11:6b KJV]
There are many who acknowledge that God is, but are doubtful about the benefit of diligently seeking him. Others adopt an atheist or agnostic posture, because the prospect of serving God is something they dread, thinking it a loss of freedom, resulting in a dreary and unfulfilling life.
Because our faith, or lack thereof, reveals what we really think about God, then we should ask ourselves just who do we think God is.
Faith in God's Love for Us
In order to trust someone, you must first have confidence that they have your interest at heart, or at least have made a promise to that effect and possess the integrity to keep it.
Even those of us who love God, often fail to follow through on basic facts that we know, taking them to their logical conclusion. Applied to God's love, consider the significance of one key fact -
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [Jn 3:16]
God's love for us is not just a kind feeling toward us, but something demonstrated by an extreme act. Would you give up your son, your only son, to save another's life? If God would do such a thing, he must value something about us, and see something of worth to him in us.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God...[1Jn 3:1]
That worth is the potential to be no less than his sons. If we are regarded as sons, then it should follow that he would care for our happiness and provide for us, as a father would for his son.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? [Ro 8:32]
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? [Mt 7:9-10]
Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full...At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. [Jn 16:24, 26-27]
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. [Ep 2:4-7]
Since God has given his only son, it would seem He merits our trust in his love, not suspicion that his regard for us is somehow harsh.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. [Jer 29:11]
Furthermore his love for us is trustworthy. It cannot be successfully assailed by any circumstance or enemy.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Ro 8:35, 38-39]
Given this, why should we think that doing God's will or obeying his commands will somehow deprive us of a happy life? The testimony of those who wrote the scriptures is that God is gracious, kind, and amply provides for his people.
Faith in God's Wisdom
Again, let's take a well known scripture to its logical conclusion.
The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. [Pr 3:19]
Human wisdom struggles to comprehend God's creation. But God thought it, then engineered it. Reasonably, we should conclude that God knows how His creation works, and how things He has created should be used and not used to our benefit. As absurd as it would seem to propose that any man knows more than God, nevertheless we often make personal decisions that implicitly suppose that indeed we do know better than God, even if we would not assert that openly.
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? [Mt 6:27]
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. [Pr 3:5]
...he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool... [Pr 28:25-26]
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments. [Ps 111:10]
One characteristic of fear in this context, is to know your better when you have encountered him. If we concede God's wisdom as superior to our own, then for us there is no reasoning against his commandments. We should not meet them with dread, as though they deny us any thing of worth. They are the manufacturer's instructions on the safe and optimal use of his product.
Faith in God's Justice
Another obstacle for people reluctant to follow God, whether they call themselves believers or not, is the notion that God has not dealt with them fairly. This is based on a self-perspective that places God under scrutiny, whereas the reality is that the situation is reversed. God has a sense of justice and appropriateness beyond that of any man.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. [Is 55:8-9]
The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness...[1Sa 26:23]
Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God’s? [Job 35:2]
Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward. [Ps 18:24-26]
God cannot fall short in justice. His promises belong to those who obey him. In the least favorable case, he is fair, and in the most favorable case he is merciful.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. [Ps 103:8-14]
Note further in the same Psalm:
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. [Ps 103:17-18]
I have observed that those who become discouraged over God's justice to them, have one thing in common - they have followed God's way in some respect, but not in all, yet expect that God will grant their desire always.
For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. [Ja 1:6-8]
Faith in the Adequacy of God's Provision
Recognition of God's love, wisdom, and justice allows us to conclude that God's provision is fully adequate and fully satisfying.
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. [Ps 36:6-9]
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. [Ps 103:2-5]
With this confidence in God's intentions for us and his readiness to act on our behalf, no course other than his should have any appeal. We are free to focus our lives on his kingdom.
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. [Mt 6:31-33]