There is a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is a resounding – yes! The long answer dives into that “yes” and applies some clauses to it.
1. Happiness does not come from doing whatever we want… yet.
When I say that God wants us to be happy, I do not mean that God will let us do whatever we want if we think it will make us happy. On the contrary, God pulls us away from many desires – but these are desires of the flesh. He takes away from us what will hinder our holiness, and ultimately our eternal joy.
Yet when a man or woman receives the Holy Spirit, there begins to be a working inside of them that transforms our desires to align with God’s. We become a, “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). If we are not praying, reading our Bibles and marinating our hearts and minds in Gospel truths, it is safe to say that we are not free to do whatever we want to. If, however, our lives show the fruit of one who is saved by Christ, we may more freely act in accordance with what we desire – provided it aligns with Scripture and God’s heart.
We are told in Romans 12:9b to, “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” As our will aligns with God’s by the work of the Spirit in us, what we should do and what we want to do will be one and the same. We will walk in righteousness because we want to. This is true freedom, and our lives will be noticeably joyful.
“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” – Proverbs 10:28
2. Our happiness is to be rooted in God and His promises.
When we say that God wants His children to be happy, we do not mean a surface-level happiness that comes and goes based on what is happening around us. We are talking about a much deeper joy that is able to withstand even the strongest heartbreak. We are talking about a joy that withstands the tears running down our cheeks. How do we do that?
What we find joy in must be stronger than the sting of pain, or even death. It cannot be dependent on circumstances, but rather in a person. We have joy in the fact that in our broken and hurting world, Jesus has given us promises that we can hold on to and delight in – even in the midst of our pain. Since God does not change (Malachi 3:6), this means His promises are always present and current. Our joy is in the hope we have from Him, and in His coming again to wipe away all pain and tears. As pastor and author Sam Crabtree says, “Hope is not undone, because he is not done!”
– “… as you trust in Him…”
These are promises to hold fast to. This is why king David, in the middle of so much pain in life could still write, “zeal for your house consumes me” (Psalm 69:9a). Our trust in God’s promises can be confident because of the one who gave them, for, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19).
– “… by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Our chain of events found in this text (Joy, peace and hope) is the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. This verse is not saying, “Figure out some way to put on a smile through pain, and just get through it.” Rather, we are promised the Holy Spirit will come upon the children of God and solidify the truths found in Scripture in their hearts, and work to transform us into joyful, hopeful creatures spreading the good news of the Gospel to others who are also hurting on Earth.
True, biblical joy is not fleeting happiness, it is the way we live our lives because of the promises we have from God through what Jesus Christ has done for us.
Maximize your joy today by dwelling on these promises in His word, and turning those truths into praise lifted up to God.