“The Desire for Happiness”

Evening Glory by John Langley

The desire for happiness is natural, a law of life itself.  While we are all alike in this human aspiration,  our individual perceptions and ways of seeking it are singularly different.   As it is right to wish to be happy, what then are the conditions upon which its fulfillment depends?

Let us consider Christ’s teachings as it relates to happiness.  What were his words concerning this natural human wish?  Did he say it is an illusion? Would he have agreed with Goethe that “religion is renunciation”?

“There is nothing of the hardness of Stoicism in Christ’s gospel. It is humane, sympathetic, consoling. Unrest and weariness, the fever of passion and the chill of despair, soul-solitude and heart-trouble, are the very things He comes to cure”. 1

Jesus begins his great discourse of the Beatitudes with the word “blessed” — “happy” is the meaning.  Nine times he repeats the word like the urgent chimes of a resounding bell. Christ’s teaching does not entail giving up things merely for the sake of giving up, but always in order to win something better. He came not to destroy, but to fulfill — to fill to the fullest, to replenish life with inward, lasting riches.  And as we come to him, we discover four great secrets in this quest: 2

First, it is inward. It does not depend on what we have, but on what we are.

Second, it is not found by direct seeking, but by pursuing the things from which it flows. We must climb the mountain if we would see the vision — we must tune the instrument if we would hear the music.

Third, happiness is not solitary, but social, so we can never have it without sharing it with others.

Fourth, it is the outcome of God’s will for us, and not our will for ourselves; therefore, we find it by surrendering our lives to the dominion of a loving God.

These four aspects reflect the divine doctrine of happiness as Christ taught, which perhaps can be distilled in these words: “Mankind’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

1 Henry Van Dyke, “Joy and Power”, p. 12
2 Ibid., pp. 13-14

 Reference: Henry Van Dyke, 1903, “Joy and Power”, http://www.gutenberg.net/1/0/3/9/10395

*** Image: Evening Glory by John Langley

14 thoughts on ““The Desire for Happiness”

  1. Loved all the points especially the first one ” It does not depend on what we have, but on what we are.” When we realize that happiness comes from not having more, but giving more to others will we truly find the joy that we are seeking! Great post!

  2. Dee my dear,

    This morning I received some deflating news that plunged me into solitude and reflection. I read your post twice – uplifting, I must say. I try to remain strong for others – but

    Let me give you a great big hug as thanks.

    God is great and I surrender to His Will.


    • Dear Eric,

      That this post uplifted you during a time of seemingly disheartening news, is quite an encouragement for me, because it proves that God prompted me to write and publish at the appointed time. Yes, He indeed orders our steps, and He is the Architect of our lives. As we surrender our lives to Him, He will create beauty out of ashes, and make the rough places smooth. Thank you, Eric, for sharing this personal difficult moment, and I am confident that God will give you the strength and ability to get you through all this. Amen, I agree, God is great.

      Love and blessings, Dee

  3. I remember sitting under the tutelage of a very fine teacher, he explained man’s happiness as a transitory thing, a moment, then a memory. Joy, he explained was based upon knowing God. Joy gave us the ability to appreciate happiness because it was given by God. Jesus said that He gives us His joy. I feel personally that through my heart aches (which have been few) that this joy/happiness that Christ brings has given me the strength to look upon the circumstances as a means to grow, a means to relate to others. You’ve made four beautiful points, which I appreciate, because those four points can be placed as stepping stones out of heart ache. Thank-you Dee.

    • Dear Sandra, yes, it does seem like joy and happiness are interspersed when it comes to what Christ offers us. That your heart aches have been few is indeed a testimony of how you have made Christ your strength and your song. “Stepping stones out of heart ache” — how wonderful to know that these four points by Henry Van Dyke prove to be so. Thank you, Sandra, for sharing your perspectives based on your experiences. It gives me a richer appreciation of the kind of joy and happiness that Christ gives in our lives. Love, Dee

  4. “…it is the outcome of God’s will for us, and not our will for ourselves; therefore, we find it by surrendering our lives to the dominion of a loving God.” What a wonderful summation…just as Ecclesiastes 12:13 (The Message translation) says: “The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what He tells you.”

    He’ll take care of all the rest. As always, thank you, Dee!


    • Amen, Lester. Out of all the puzzles and bewilderment in life, the wisdom of Solomon concludes with those words. Thank you for sharing the Message Translation, and as always, thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. Dee

  5. It truly is “Mankind’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” However, because of sin, that is impossible without the reconciliation to the Father by the blood of Jesus Christ. God desires to enjoy His creation as well, which is why He sent His only Son to take our place and pay the price of that sin… eternal death.
    Your post is very encouraging! Thank you for being a blessing

    • Amen! It is all because of Jesus that we are able to be reconciled to the Father. Thank you for presenting the other side that God desires to enjoy His creation, and He made a way for us to have fellowship with Him through His Son. You are a blessing to me as well, Stephanie! Blessings, Dee

  6. Dearest Dee, “therefore, we find it by surrendering our lives to the dominion of a loving God.” I so agree with this thought … true joy and contentment … we find it when we give up seeking our own and look for His instead… your blessings are so rich and much appreciated!

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