My Little Book God’s Promise of Happiness
Along with my book Happiness, a new beautiful little book called God’s Promise of Happiness was just released, which is a simplified and differently presented version of the big book. (It has 13,000 words and 96 pages.) It’s designed for believers who want an introduction to the topic, but don’t have the time or inclination to engage the larger work. God’s Promise of Happiness is also written for unbelievers who are interested in the subject and will be drawn to the Gospel as “good news of happiness” (Isaiah 52:7, ESV). I believe its pocket size and the question and answer format will make it a helpful tool in sharing the Gospel of Christ. In that sense, it’s sort of the happiness equivalent of my Heaven booklet.
Hope you enjoy the excerpt below, and you can also read a longer PDF excerpt to get a feel for how the book is laid out. I pray that God will use God’s Promise of Happiness for the glory of Jesus and the good of His bride.
IS IT OKAY FOR CHRISTIANS TO BE HAPPY?
Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth! Be happy! Rejoice out loud! (Psalm 98: 4, CEB)
It’s not just okay to be happy; it’s right to be happy. The Bible clearly tells God’s children to be happy. Jesus commanded his disciples to be happy, and for a compelling reason: “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). If we’re not experiencing happiness in God, then we’re disobeying and missing the abundant life Jesus came to give (see John 10:10).
We shouldn’t criticize people for wanting to be happy. Pastors who encourage people to stop seeking happiness or parents who don’t want their children motivated by happiness are fighting a losing battle. They’ll never succeed, and they’ll do damage by distancing the gospel from the happiness everyone craves.
Consistently seeking our happiness in Jesus shouts to everyone that God is present and working in the world and that he’ll one day reign over a new universe. As A. W. Tozer said, “The people of God ought to be the happiest people in all the wide world!” [i]
- Be happy and shout to God who makes us strong! (Psalm 81:1, CEV)
- Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! (Philippians 4:4, NLT)
DOES THE BIBLE HAVE MUCH TO SAY ABOUT HAPPINESS?
There are more than 2,700 passages in the Bible containing words such as joy, happiness, gladness, merriment, pleasure, cheer, laughter, delight, jubilation, feasting, exultation, and celebration.
God makes it clear that seeking happiness through sin is wrong and fruitless. But seeking happiness in him is good and right:
- Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord! (Deuteronomy 33:29)
- Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. (Matthew 5:12, CEV)
Many passages don’t contain the word happiness, but the concept is unmistakable:
- May Yahweh bless you and protect you; may Yahweh make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; may Yahweh look with favor on you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26, HCSB)
- All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15)
- Enjoy life with the wife whom you love. (Ecclesiastes 9:9)
DOESN’T THE BIBLE TALK ABOUT JOY RATHER THAN HAPPINESS?
An ungrounded separation of joy from happiness has infiltrated the Christian community. Among English speakers, the word happiness has been a bridge between the church and the world, until recently. It’s a bridge we can’t afford to burn. Joy is a perfectly good word. But there are other equally good words that Bible translators use to convey happiness, including gladness, merriment, delight, and pleasure.
Happiness and joy are synonyms. They’re much more alike than unalike. Joy, in Merriam- Webster’s dictionary, is defined as “a feeling of great happiness” and “a source or cause of great happiness.” [ii]
Similarly, look in Hebrew and Greek lexicons at the many different words translated joyful, glad, merry, and delighted. In nearly every case, you’ll find these words defined as meaning “happy.”
Think of expressions using the word joy:
- “He jumped for joy.”
- “She’s our pride and joy.”
- “I wept for joy.”
In each case, isn’t joy synonymous with happiness?
John Piper writes, “If you have nice little categories for ‘joy is what Christians have’ and ‘happiness is what the world has,’ you can scrap those when you go to the Bible, because the Bible is indiscriminate in its uses of the language of happiness and joy and contentment and satisfaction.” [iii]
- You, O Lord, have made me happy by your work. I will sing for joy because of what you have done. (Psalm 92:4, NET)
- God, you have caused the nation to grow and made the people happy. And they have shown their happiness to you, like the joy during harvest time. (Isaiah 9:3, NCV)
[i] A. W. Tozer, Who Put Jesus on the Cross? (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2009), e-book.
[ii] Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary (Britannica Digital Learning, 2014), s.v. “joy,” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/joy