“God wants me to be happy!”

I recently encountered a woman who’s sole goal in life was to be happy. She was looking for a religion that would confirm this desire in her, and had decided Christianity wasn’t it. The funny thing is she was ethnically Jewish.

While reading Exodus 5 this morning, I got what is probably the strongest confirmation that this simply isn’t God’s desire. He does not seek our immediate and perpetual happiness. He seeks his will to be done.

In Exodus 5, Moses has just met up with Aaron after meeting God in the burning bush. He returns to Egypt and asks Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to take three days off from working to go worship God. If God’s goal was for our immediate happiness, Pharaoh would have done something like acquiesce to the request and go on. then Moses would be praised as a great prophet and the Israelites would have gotten a short holiday from their crushing labors.

What actually happened was Pharaoh’s pride got pricked, and he decided to punish the Israelites for being “lazy”. He took away the straw for their bricks and demanded the find the straw themselves. Moses was now despised by the people he had been sent to help.

Moses was now, I’m sure, anything but happy. He had, however, done exactly what God told him to do. As we all know, God would send ten plagues on Egypt to force Pharaoh to drive out the Israelites. The goal was not a short holiday, but their freedom.

We need to stop indulging this idea that God wants us to be running around in a constant state of bliss. It is simply not Biblical, and we do a disservice if we let anyone think this is how things will be. Some people get a period of happiness and ease right after they are saved, but it tends to be a horrible shock and discouragement when something goes wrong again. Jesus said his followers would be hated. James spoke eloquently about how hard times mature us.

Finally, if you have ever experienced God’s peace, then you know it is very different from happiness. God’s peace will let you remain confident as you follow him, even as everything seems to fall apart around you. It lets you bless those who are cursing you, because you see past their hurtful words to the need that inspired them. It gives you endurance when others would give up.

Don’t spend all your time looking for happiness. It’s a transitory emotion driven by circumstances. Look for peace. That is God’s gift, and it lasts.

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