God Wants Me to Be Happy (And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves About God)

I eat super healthy.

Or so I like to tell myself.

I like to create Pinterest boards filled with recipes including fresh fruits and vegetables. I especially like to pin the healthiest looking salad recipes and fruit bowls. And if you were to ask my Pinterest followers, they would definitely tell you I eat super healthy.

But the truth behind my Pinterest boards? I don’t eat green vegetables. Like, hardly ever.

I prefer salads without the lettuce. Avocados or green beans? Gross. There are even some fruits I won’t eat, I’m that picky. (Kiwi? No thank you)

And if you asked anyone close to me, they would quickly tell you that the thing I eat the most of is macaroni and cheese and french fries. And pizza. (I’m clearly a child when it comes to food, y’all.)

I could spend all day trying to convince myself, you, and my Pinterest followers that I eat super healthy. But at the end of the day, I really don’t eat all that healthy, no matter what my Pinterest boards say.

Just because I try to convince myself of something, doesn’t always make it true.

And sometimes I don’t just convince myself of what’s not true when it comes to food.

Sometimes I do it with God.

And if I had to guess, I’d say you’ve done it too. Because if we really took a look at the things we believe about God, often we believe things that aren’t Biblical because somehow it feels better to us. Friends, that is super dangerous territory to walk.

Let’s take a look at just six common lies we convince ourselves about God.

GOD WANTS ME TO BE HAPPY

Here’s the thing: Nowhere in the Bible do we actually find that God’s desire for us is to be happy.

This might be hard for some of us to swallow because we’ve convinced ourselves that all God wants for us is to be happy, so therefore we shouldn’t have to experience suffering or put ourselves in uncomfortable situations or go through anything that would take away that feeling of happiness.

But we’re wrong. God’s desire is for us to be sanctified–to grow each day to become more Christlike. And that is not an easy or always happy process.

We get confused because the Bible talks a lot about joy and always being joyful.

Here’s the difference between joy and happiness: Happiness is something that we feel, but joy is something that we do. Therefore, happiness is an emotion based on our circumstances, but joy is a choice based on who God is, not on what we’re walking through at the moment. Which is why over and over in Scripture, we see that God wants us to be joyful. He wants us to find joy. Because joy is found in Him, not in anything else like happiness is.

We are called to follow God. Luke 9:23 tells us, “Then He said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” Carrying our own cross for Christ is not easy and nor will it always produce happiness. Sometimes it will, but sometimes it’s a choice we must make regardless of what we feel.

James 1:2-3 even instructs us with this, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

Troubles and suffering would not produce happiness. Yet as followers of Christ, we’re called to lay down our own desires and suffer for Him (Philippians 1:29). As His followers we are promised that the world will hate us (Matthew 10:22).

Even so, in all of this we can find true joy in God–because ultimately that’s the only place we can find it. And while He doesn’t call us to be happy, He does call us to a relationship with Him and to use each day to become more and more like Him.

GOD DOESN’T GIVE ME MORE THAN I CAN HANDLE

So often I’ve heard people say, “Don’t worry, God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Is that really true? I have not found a verse in the Bible that backs up the idea that God will not ask us to walk through a difficult situation beyond what we are able to handle. Instead, throughout Scripture we see people placed in situations that certainly felt like much more than they could handle.

In 2 Corinthians 12 we see Paul wrestling against a thorn in his flesh. We’re not told what exactly that thorn was, but it was not something easy or pleasant. In fact, it was so awful that the Bible says it was “tormenting” him and he begged God three different times to remove it.

I can guarantee you that this felt like way more than Paul could handle on his own. I guarantee you that it was way more than Paul could handle on his own. So why did God allow it in his life?

“Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Paul learned that there would be many situations in life that were bigger than him and that were way beyond what he candle in his own weakness. But the amazing part was that in all of those “too big” situations, He was given God’s strength to cover his weakness.

We will face situations in our lives that we most definitely cannot handle on our own–that most definitely feel like they are too big for us or too much.

But God. God is our strength when we are weak. We can only walk through these situations when we rely on Him. Every time we are given more than we can handle, it is our opportunity to lay it at His feet and let His strength work through our greatest weaknesses.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

GOD DOESN’T MIND IF I PUT OTHER THINGS BEFORE HIM

I like Pinterest. A lot. (You know, so I can pin all those healthy food recipes.)

I also like my phone. A lot. I like texting friends or calling friends.

And I like books. A lot. I buy more books than I can read sometimes honestly.

I also like ministry. A lot. I love serving God by serving other people and pointing them back to His love.

Now what’s wrong with these things, you may ask? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

However, I so easily can put even these really good things–like serving God–above my actual relationship with God. I do this by picking up my phone before my Bible. Or spending so much time doing for God, I don’t just sit with Him.

We all have our “priorities” that are good and sometimes great, but that we put in the wrong order. And we justify it with, “Well these are good things, and God doesn’t mind if I put these things before Him. He knows I still love Him.”

Nope.

Exodus 34:14 tells us this, “You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about His relationship with you.”

We might not worship golden statues anymore, but we set up gods in our hearts with our phones or our apps or our service projects or anything else that is good, but that we put in the wrong place.

God wants you completely. No questions asked. He doesn’t want to share a space in your heart with your phone or your comforts or your plans. He wants all of your heart. He is never okay with you putting anything above your relationship with Him, no matter how good it is.

And we should never be okay with that either.

GOD DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH

Sometimes life just hurts and we don’t understand why.

And when it hurts so much it is easy to feel isolated and alone–because it feels as if no one could possibly understand how much our hearts are breaking right now.

We even use that with God.

Well, God just doesn’t understand what I’m going through right now.

But we’re wrong.

Hebrews 4:14-15 says, “So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin.”

That is the whole point of Jesus putting on human flesh. He walked through human life as we do, so that He could die a human death, and save us from an eternity without Him. While Jesus was on earth He knew temptation (Mark 1:12-13), He knew poverty (Matthew 8:20), He knew anger and frustration (Matthew 21:12-13), He knew weariness (John 4:6), He knew disappointment (Luke 13:34), He knew rejection (John 6:66), He knew sorrow (Matthew 26:38), and He know loneliness (Matthew 27:46), among all the other emotions we experience as humans.

There is no one who understands your pain or suffering or frustration more than your Savior.

GOD LOVES ME MORE IF I DO MORE

When I was around fifteen years old, this was a lie I believed even without realizing I was believing it. Which is funny, because it was never something I had been taught or seen believed before, but it was a lie I easily fell into.

I identified a lot with Martha.

“As Jesus and His disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to You that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Martha was so focused on doing for Jesus, that she forgot just to experience being with Him. Mary understood that Jesus didn’t just want her hands and service. He wanted her heart and relationship.

Sometimes we forget that too. We get caught up like Martha did in all of the doing for Jesus. And we convince ourselves that if we just keep doing more, more, more, than surely Jesus will love us even more. We place our worth–if we’re worth being loved or not–in what we do, instead of who we are in Him.

Romans 5:8 reminds us, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

This verse proves that His love is not based at all on our performance or our service or what we do for Him. His love for us does not change based on how much we do or don’t do.

He loves you completely and unconditionally. And in return He wants your heart and relationship, not just your hands and service.

IF GOD IS GOOD, HE WOULDN’T ALLOW BAD THINGS TO HAPPEN

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in a very tough situation.

They could either disobey God and save their lives. Or they could disobey the king and get thrown into a fiery furnace.

The fiery furnace couldn’t have felt like a very good plan, but they understood that to serve God the only way out of this situation was through the fire.

Their dialogue to the king In Daniel 3:17-18 is powerful, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, your Majesty. But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were confident in God’s ability to rescue them. They were confident that He could save them from that fire.

But even if He doesn’t.

Yet they also understood that sometimes God’s plans don’t always make sense to us. They understood that He sees the whole puzzle, while we only have one small piece. They knew that He is always good and His plan is good, even if nothing about it felt good at the time.

So because they knew who He was, they were able to face the most difficult situation of their lives and understand that even if He didn’t answer them in the way wanted, He was still good and worth following.

God is always good (Psalm 145:9). Everything He does is always good. But His plans and thoughts are also far beyond anything we could understand, because He doesn’t see things or think things in the same way we do (Isaiah 55:8-9). Which means that we won’t always understand why He does something and we especially won’t always understand why He allows something painful to occur in our lives.

But we can be confident that since He is always good, His plan is always good, and He is always working our story out for good. Even when it doesn’t feel like it and even if He answers our prayers in ways that are different than we think.

THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR GOD

Sometimes we get so caught up in our small, and often false, ideas of who God is, because we have failed to invest in a close relationship with Him where we daily learn more about Him and His character.

Say I had a friend that I only met once. I could make up an answer and tell you what her favorite ice cream flavor is, or her favorite song is. But I’d probably be wrong. And why would I be wrong? Because I don’t actually have a relationship with her, so I don’t actually know anything about her personally.

The only way to learn the truth about who God is and daily unravel more of His character is to be in close relationship with Him.

I challenge you this week to spend time with Him–read your Bible, pray, study His character and who the Bible tells us He is.

I promise you, it’ll be the greatest adventure of your life.

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