The Happiness of God

Jesse Herschell | 11 Apr 2018

If you’ve been around church for a while, you’ve most likely heard the phrase ‘the joy of the Lord’ being mentioned. While it sounds like a nice idea, you may not have given the biblical concept of joy much thought.

When we talk about joy, what we are talking about primarily is the joy that has always existed within the Trinity and is offered to the people of God to participate in. Think about Nehemiah 8:10 where God says to his people: “the joy of the Lord is your strength…” and John 15 where Jesus, speaking to his disciples about abiding in him, says: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you…” It’s God’s own joy which he gives to those who belong to him.

But what is joy?

Often joy and happiness are contrasted by saying that joy isn’t happiness; this being some type of excuse for remaining melancholic. But the idea that when the Bible is speaking about joy it’s not speaking about happiness is absurd.

Joy and happiness have always been the same concept and it was only in the earlier part of the 20th century that anyone tried to distinguish between them. If we’re talking biblically, when we discuss the joy of the Lord we’re really talking about the happiness of God.

Think about Psalm 16:11 for a moment, “In his presence is fullness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures forever more.”

The essence of real happiness is a content and fully satisfied soul. In God’s presence is fullness of happiness. In God’s presence that the soul is fully satisfied and fully content. God himself is fully happy and invites us to participate in his happiness.

However God’s happiness is not the world’s happiness. You can achieve for yourself a type of happiness outside of God by enjoying the gifts God has given to all people such as good food, friends, good weather, and the wonders of nature.

God himself is fully happy and invites us to participate in his happiness.
-Jesse Herschell

But this happiness, even if it is carefully fostered, remains circumstantial and will always be fleeting because its foundation goes no deeper than the here and now. It is by nature a happiness entirely in the hands of circumstance. It’s driven by the next exciting thing that’s coming up or the next event in my calendar that will make me happy. That’s why most workers spend five days of the week longing for the weekend. Largely it is because the happiness that we all pursue, even within the church, is not the happiness of God.

By embracing the God who is eternally happy we are embracing the surpassing and infinite happiness of God.

It does not mean that we become emotionally dishonest when times are tough but instead our souls remain satisfied and content because the presence of God is not removed by circumstantial hardship but often intensified in it. Even if the realities of circumstance cause us to be sorrowful for a time we can always be rejoicing.

God offers to his people infinite joy and supreme happiness because of the infinite pleasures that are found in Him. A life that is pursuing God wholeheartedly and seeks to be led and changed by the presence of God is a life that is aimed towards the happiness of God.

Now I encourage readers to ask these questions: Do I think about and pursue joy/happiness in the same way that the world does? What does it look like to truly pursue God and the happiness that is found in Him?