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Happiness is defined as a state of well-being and contentment. But how can a person attain this state of mind?
When God created human beings in His image, He gave them the desire to be happy like Him. And He provided them with everything that would enhance their happiness. He fellowshipped with them and placed them in a most beautiful garden that pleases the senses and fulfills the heart’s desires (Genesis 1:29–30; 2:8–9).
But Satan lied at them and made them believe that true happiness can be attained through rebellion against God’s command (Genesis 3:1–6). And they very soon realized the falsehood of his claims (Genesis 3:23–24). They understood that they should have trusted their loving Creator who proved his love by providing for their ultimate happiness in the first place.
God’s plan to restore man’s happiness
In mercy, the Lord made a way of salvation to redeem the human race back from death and restore the happiness that was originally theirs (John 3:16). Jesus sacrificed His life to bring mankind back to his original state of joy (John 15:13). Although it was a very painful experience for Him, He declared, “I delight to do your will, O my God: yea, your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). It was Christ’s joy to obey His Father. When the law is written in the mind, obedience becomes a joy. Instead of being regarded as a series of outward regulations to be done, the law is seen as a copy of God’s character.
Joy in following God
The psalmist says, “Happy are those who reject the advice of evil people, who do not follow the example of sinners or join those who have no use for God” (Psalm 1:1). A sense of the endless cost of redemption calls forth in the believers a deep appreciation, so that it becomes their greatest joy to live in harmony with the heavenly guidelines (1 John 5:3; Proverbs 3:1). Thus, happiness is attained when people follow God’s path and obey His commandments (Psalm 112:1). Thus, the secret and foundation of all true happiness and success is the fear of the Lord (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
God plans for our happiness are different from our earthly selfish plans (Isaiah 55:9). True joy and happiness come from sacrifice (Mark 8:34) and service. Jesus taught, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Happiness is gained when we overcome our selfishness (Romans 6:6–7). In that sense, earthly happiness is so different from divine happiness.
The passing pleasures of sin can’t produce true happiness. It only gives a fleeting sensation of it. And the sad consequences are misery and pain (1 Corinthians 6:18). The world is full of people who pursue their own dreams of acquiring riches and seeking fleshly pleasures but they admit that they are unhappy. Outward experience cannot satisfy the inner cravings of the heart. Things, that is, material riches, do not fulfill the desires of the heart. Solomon the wise after acquiring every thing that the heart desires wrote, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
Real joy is found in the Lord’s presence (2 Peter 1:2) and in serving Him even amid difficulties (Philippians 4:11–13). Paul and Silas praised the Lord with songs even after they were beaten and imprisoned (Acts 16:22-25). Few men have suffered as much as Paul did. Trouble followed him wherever he went (2 Corinthians 11:16-33). But he declared, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). In the light of eternity the present life is but a brief and transitory period. “Our light affliction … is but for a moment” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
In His service,