How to Find True Happiness

We all seek true happiness, and often wonder who or what it is that could make us truly happy. At surface level, most would accept God as the answer, needing no explanations. But a little more digging would reveal a world where God is never quite truly the final answer or even an answer among many, and this to the irreligious and some religious folk alike. So it is needful to make a case for why God is truly the answer to man’s pursuit of happiness and why your mantra from now on, if it wasn’t already, should be summed by these words of John Piper: “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.”

First, consider that God is sovereign in everything he does (Psalm 115:3, Isaiah 45:7-9). He is the most glorious and majestic being in all the universe, and there is nothing or anyone above him (Psalm 86:10, Isaiah 45:5). Why is this important? Simply because being happy in God is only possible if you believe in his absolute sovereignty (Job 42:2, Lamentations 3:37-39) and holiness (Leviticus 19:2). True happiness is not possible unless the source of that happiness is indestructible and infallible. Since God is sovereign, has nothing higher than him, and is holy, he is the enduring source of happiness. 

True Happiness

But what does it mean to be truly happy? The word ‘wholesome’ best explains what our world today understands happiness as. It is an immersive experience that wraps up the senses, and one that should not be hindered in any way whatsoever. For example, someone may say that they love fries. They find the experience of eating fries wholesome and would hate for anyone to stop them from enjoying the greasy snack.

As silly as this example is, we can learn something from it. Fries might be great, but the pleasure found in eating them never lasts well past the last potato to leave the plate. It brings temporal happiness, not true, indestructible, and infallible happiness. The world is correct in pursuing happiness as a possibility, but sadly, it pursues it in the wrong ways. 

Biblically, Christians are to find their ultimate joy/true happiness in God and not in the temporal things of this world (Psalm 16:11, Matthew 22:37, Philippians 4:4, Matthew 6:19-21). Nothing is greater, bigger, or stronger than the creator of the universe–God. Since God is the creator, everything else in this world is finite, like our fries in the above example. It is in God that we should find true happiness. Anything outside of him would be vain idol worship. 

Shouldn’t Negate Suffering

Another problem with the world’s concept of true happiness is that it is antithetical to so many other life’s realities, chief among them suffering. Its shallow approach to happiness wouldn’t be compatible with evil and suffering, two inescapable realities of our fallen world. So whenever anything should go wrong and the slightest evil befalls, people get completely thrown off the rails. Emotions such as anger, hopelessness, and anxiety become manifest, making the happiness they had worked so hard to obtain pointless.

To offer a Christian contrast, let us consider the examples of Jesus and Paul. From a worldly perspective, you could say they lived horrifying lives because they were not wealthy and suffered a lot. For example, Jesus, God in the flesh (John 1:14), had nowhere to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). Paul, on his part, suffered greatly for his faith (1 Corinthians 4:9-13, 2 Corinthians 11:22-29). These two also died horrible deaths, with one being nailed on the cross (Matthew 8:35) and the other beheaded for the sole reason of believing in a risen Christ. 

In the eyes of the world, there is no way they were happy. But the Bible would disagree, arguing instead that they were among the happiest people around. The reason for their happiness is answered in Philippians 3:8-9, where Paul says he counts “everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” For him, whether in life or death, as long as God is glorified, he would rejoice (Philippians 1:18-21). We see that Paul did not create his happiness; instead, God made Paul happy in himself. As for Christ, Hebrews 12:1-3 quickly comes to mind. The author writes that Jesus could willingly endure all manner of shame and suffering to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:6-11) because of the joy set before him.

But how could the same soul experience so much sorrow and so much joy at the same time? Because they rested in a sovereign (Colossians 1:16-17), infallible (Psalm 18:30, Deuteronomy 32:4) source.

Man, unlike God, is fallible (Psalm 53:3) and could offer no true happiness. But the infallibility of God is such that he seeks not only our joy, but his very own as well, in himself. If he were to value something else above himself (1 Samuel 12:22), he would cease to be the most valuable being in the universe. As a result, God would lose his sovereignty. 

Happiness based on God is Satisfying 

So, Paul repeatedly praised God’s sovereignty in his letters (Romans 11:36, Ephesians 1:11). He knew God would otherwise not be glorified in his people as the source of all happiness. Man can only be happy in an infallible (Psalm 19:7-14, Romans 11:33-34), sovereign (Psalm 115:3), all-satisfying (Psalm 16:11; 22:26; 107:9, John 6:35) God.

God’s Glory

It is my prayer, then, that you would rise from reading this persuaded to look away from temporal things for happiness and instead look to the eternal sovereign God. I pray that you would be happy in him and not just with what he gives. Indeed, may his glory be your happiness, even to cause you to truly live by the phrase “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him”.




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