It is a certainty that all people want to be happy. – St Augustine
“Don’t I deserve to be happy?” Quite few people have asked me this question. One interesting similarity exists among all who have asked. It has always been about a decision that I believe was wrong, like divorce.
If all our happiness is bound up entirely in our personal circumstances it is difficult not to demand of life more than it has to give. – Bertrand Russell
What makes you think you deserve to be happy? If you deserve happiness, then do I? If I deserve it, then how could that occur? There is no path to me getting my three dead kids back. My 21-year-old son cannot possibly walk in my door again. While you go running for the fulfillment of your desires, I suffer with ankle problems keeping me from walking correctly for 30+ years. Even as you sleep around, I love my wife despite her lichen sclerosus causing infrequent physical affection. Do not say to me happiness is some right nor tell me I am not smiling enough to make you comfortable.
Although I believe this mentality of deserving happiness is childishly selfish, my actual concern comes from it spilling over into Christian thought. This is not a Christ-like attitude, but instead is a fundamental premise of sinfulness. You cannot change what scripture means, so your lifestyle choices are considered good.
“But I do not do these immoral things. I get all my happiness in Christ!” If this is you, perhaps you have committed the same, self-soothing, sin through a different action. As Larry Crabb points out, too many in the Church push happiness unbiblically.
Modern Christianity, in dramatic reversal of its biblical form, promises to relieve the pain of living in a fallen world. The message, whether it’s from fundamentalists requiring us to live by a favored set of rules or from charismatics urging a deeper surrender to the Spirit’s power, is too often the same: The promise of bliss is for now! Complete satisfaction can be ours this side of heaven. Some speak of the joys of fellowship and obedience, others of a rich awareness of their value and worth. The language may be reassuringly biblical or it may reflect the influence of current psychological thought. Either way, the point of living the Christian life has shifted from knowing and serving Christ till He returns to soothing, or at least learning to ignore, the ache in our soul. – Larry Crabb
Once we become Christ-followers, we do not suddenly begin to live in an idyllic bubble full of happiness. While we become the temple of God, this is a metaphor of reverence and submission to Him. He is omnipresent; everywhere at once. The only part of heaven coming down into our world as we follow Him is the worship, praise, thanksgiving, and sacrifice to Him we have made of our life. I have had people admonish me for not living in the joy of God. Do not mistake joy for happiness. These are two completely separate concepts.
The Bible states we find happiness in learning, knowing, and serving God. This perfect happiness is not obtainable in this life. We can have some of it as we give up our passions, lusts, desires, dreams, actions, relationships, and emotions to Christ. Our sinful nature and the sin-stained world we live in do not permit a perfect relationship with Christ. Even as we strive for perfection, this does not mean we will not be sad or mourn the loss of loved ones or long for dreams that have been irrevocably wrecked.