June 7, 2007
But Will It Make Me Happy?
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14, NIV)
When my son, Brad, was about three years old, he went through a phase of playing on my emotions when he wanted something. If I told him “no,” he would reply, “But mommy, that will make me happy.” Then he would give me his most drop-dead gorgeous smile and bat his eyes at me for effect. Boy, did he know how to work me over! Some of the requests were for things like a lollipop before dinner or staying up several hours past bedtime. And while I knew those things might make him happy for a moment, they definitely weren’t the best choice for him. As his mom, I knew that sticking to my “no” was the wise choice—no matter how many manipulation tactics he tried!
And yet, how many times do I act just like this before God? I kneel before Him and present Him with a laundry list of things I think would make my life better. In reality, I don’t have any better idea about what is best for me than my child does. My view of happiness is very temporary and circumstance based. While I think I know what will make me happy, I am learning that, in truth, I have absolutely no idea. And this is where trusting God and submitting to His will is always the better choice.
How many times in your life have you wanted something so badly—yet when you got whatever it was, you realized, “Nope, this didn’t do it for me either.” That house you wanted to move into so badly, that person you wanted to date, that achievement you thought would bring success, that child you longed to have—they all brought you momentary happiness, but they didn’t fulfill you as you had hoped, or bring you the significance you longed for. I am learning slowly that whenever I find myself begging God for something, with some whining thrown in for good measure, I have to step back and ask myself the question: But will it make me happy? I know that whatever “it” is, it doesn’t have the power to bring me lasting happiness—that deep indwelling joy that only God can bring. I may have a flash of happiness, only to lose it mere moments later. I am learning slowly to push aside these momentary longings and seek God instead. To tell Him, “Here’s what I think I want, but I trust You to do what’s best for me.”
I have learned that a book with my name on the cover, an outfit hanging in my closet that looks great on me, an accolade for my child, a trip to the spa, or an address in the right neighborhood will not make me happy, as much as I think it might. I can’t look for happiness in the things of this earth, or I will certainly live in a state of disappointment. Instead, I can spend my time seeking God, and allowing Him to bring along unexpected blessings—little bouquets of happiness along the way. That doesn’t mean I don’t still look longingly at a new digital music player or a sleek new laptop and think fleetingly, “Oooooh, now that would make me happy.” But I am learning to pull back and refocus my perspective when I have those thoughts. Will it make me happy? Maybe for a moment. But in the long run, only God can bring me the joy I seek. I am learning that truth, minute by minute, day by day.
Dear Lord, Please help my perspective to be Your perspective. Help my focus to stay where it needs to be—fixed intently on You and not on the things of this world I think will make me happy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
For the Write Reason General Editor Marybeth Whalen
Small Acts of Grace by Alice Gray
Write down in your journal anything God has brought to mind that you are looking to bring you happiness. How can you take your eyes off these things and refocus on God and His Son, Jesus Christ? Write down personal action steps you need to take and begin taking these steps today.
Are you being honest with yourself about what truly makes you happy? Are you looking to the wrong things to make you happy? What part of this devotion is speaking to you today?
Ecclesiastes 5:19, “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift from God.” (NIV)
Isaiah 33:6, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (NIV)
Proverbs 10:2, “Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 07 June 2007.