When I raised my four children, I wanted them to grow up to be holy and happy. I knew without proper nutrition, schooling, obedience, internal motivation, a good work ethic, and a love of God, their future happiness would be jeopardized. But, the road toward their future happiness was filled with bumps. Getting them to eat their vegetables, go to school, be obedient, and do their chores didn’t always make them happy. But, I loved them and knew it would ultimately benefit them, so I continued to push forward encouraging and sometimes forcing them toward righteousness: I made them eat their vegetables, go to school, and to show respect to me and to others. As they grew, I was pleased with the adults they were becoming. Now, I am amazed seeing how wise they deal with hard life situations.
I believe our relationship with our heavenly Father is similar to that of a parent raising their children. God knows holiness takes priority over our fleshly happiness and loves us more than I love my children. As we face hard life situations, our Father will offer us the opportunity to listen to his direction which will lead us toward holiness.
Although, we will not always want to do what is right and will perceive some situations as unhappy. Like children, we tend to think, “Life is not fair and why do we have to do this or go through that?” We may tend to blame God for our unhappiness or ask him to remove or replace the unhappiness with whatever our flesh desires instead of trusting God and asking him, “How should I respond?” According to God’s Word, our correct response should be to remember all things work together to our good and to trust in God with all of our heart, mind, and soul. This is easier said than done, but not impossible. I have also found trusting God is as simple as learning to tie your shoe. There is a struggle as you learn; but, the more you do it, the easier it gets until one day you find yourself automatically responding to sinful situations once controlled by yourself.
It is important to understand happiness is a state of our emotions. We achieve happiness based on how we feel and what we believe. If we believe to be happy we must have certain things or feel a certain way and we don’t get them or feel them; then, we will respond with unhappiness. If we and the ones we love have food, clothes, shelter, health; then, we are happy. If we are getting our way, we are happy. But, life does not always line up with what we want: It is full of problems and we learn from mistakes. Our human needs keep us in a fluctuating state of happiness, seeking and finding, and never truly satisfied. When we say, “Life is full of ups and downs” we are referring to the fact that how we think our world should be is not lining up with our emotional list of wants and desires. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to achieve true happiness on our own.
On the other hand, God is holy and he has perfect purity. By following God’s Word and way, we can find happiness. Although we can never be perfect, we can achieve a state of holiness through our sanctified affections for God. When we walk in communion with God lining our lives up with God’s Word; God can work in us and through us. This state will bring peace. Peace will come as we commune with God, knowing he has each situation in his control and can work it to our benefit. Peace is spiritual happiness and trumps any emotional state of being. If you have peace, then you are experiencing a higher form of happiness than anything this flesh can understand. Peace takes worry out of the equation.
The question is, “How do we achieve both holiness and happiness when to be holy means I have to take every thought captive and respond in a way that tears down the ungodly desires of the flesh?” Most of us can’t even muster up enough will to say, “No” to a bowl of ice cream. Therefore, to be holy and happy means we would have no emotions; life would be perfect and we wouldn’t make any mistakes. The answer begins by understanding there are two kingdoms here. We are born into the Kingdom of the Flesh and through our relationship with Jesus; we are reborn into the Kingdom of God. There are many things in the Kingdom of the Flesh that are impossible; but, nothing is impossible with God. We should view the moment when we are tempted to respond in a way contrary to God’s will as a “Golden Opportunity” because it is at this pivotal point we are being given the opportunity to move into his kingdom and toward holiness. As we go through our life situations, there is a part of us that wants to respond to situations like a disobedient child; but there is another part that desires to be obedient and to trust our loving, heavenly Father and to please him. Saying “No” to the desires of the flesh is impossible without God’s help, therefore, with each temptation we should ask him to help us to overcome our own desires so we can choose his way which will bring holiness, peace, and allow his will to be accomplished in our lives.
We must always remember we cannot have any type of true happiness without holiness. Therefore, holiness takes priory! It is more important to focus on our holiness. What will follow will be a higher form of happiness which is different and better than what we could ever achieve by our own efforts. In Philippians 4, Paul tells us God will give us a peace that passes all understanding and will keep or guard our hearts.
God desires for us to be both holy and happy. When we are working hand in hand with the Holy Spirit to face each day’s situations, we show God we want or will his way instead of our own. Through this process we are in a working oneness, a relationship with God and achieve holiness because he is actively at work in us. This process will produce a peace and higher form of happiness that passes all understanding.