It’s not that we do not seek happiness, it’s when we seek to find our happiness in anything other than God that the bottom drops out. As Blaise Pascal, the 17th century Christian mathematician so brilliantly pointed out. “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”
And later on as the centuries rolled by, the brilliant word-smith C.S Lewis was able to help us see the human dilemma a little more clearly. “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” So, it’s not that seeking happiness is wrong, it’s actually unavoidable, it’s hard wired into who we are. It's that we seek happiness in all the wrong places. It's that we were made by God and for God. Seeking happiness, or joy in anything else, (apart from that that thing being a conduit to finding joy in God) is a trap, that will ultimately lead to our desires being the very thing that consume us.
It is why seeking happiness, or joy in God, is actually more then commendable, it is more than just a good thing.
When Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice!" It is not a suggestion. He is not saying, "if you feel like rejoicing, rejoice, if not, don't" There is the weight of a command. And so there is more than an invite of a cruise at the sea. It's more like, "Go on a cruise at the sea!!!"
And is a reason that God commands this, just as there is a reason God commands everything. It's because most of the time we don't know what's best for ourselves, and would just keep going on choosing mud puddles. In fact the command to rejoice in the Lord, to find joy in the Lord, just might be the very command that underlies every command. For it is the fuel that drives what life is made of. For there is only one God - you shall have no other Gods before you. (Exodus 20:3) But then to rejoice in that God takes it to a whole other level. To know there is God, and to have no other God before you is one thing, but to love and adore, and cherish, a chase after, all because you want to, that God, is quite another thing. This is what we were made for. This is the abundant life. God is the creator and sustainer of all things. There is a reason he commands what he commands. And it is not because he is a killjoy trying to steal our joy. No! Rather it is because he knows how life works best and wants to give us forever joy. He is the path to life. And not just this life, but life eternal. His commands are just that to those who love him, they are path to everlasting life that is sweeter than honeycomb (Psalm 119:103) “You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) Therefore, follow him, not the desires that sin has so twisted in your heart, and Satan has so tempted you with. But rather, seek in God’s word his desire for your life. Go to the source. He has wrote a book. The Creator of the universe has bent down to speak to you. And it tells all about a man named Christ Jesus, who also bent down - to destroy the works of the devil (sin, death, hell) to free you up so you could have fellowship with him. To share in his joy with him, that he shares with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
So you see, God offers us a cruise at the sea. He commands us a cruise at the sea. And not only that, but he goes to great lengths, even becoming a man, living a perfect life, suffering a brutal death on a cross so that we could have the ability, in all ways, to go on a cruise at the sea.
Go to the fountain. Go to the source. The great Westminster Catechism. Which a Catechism is just a great way to teach summarize and teach what the Bible teaches, says that the ultimate purpose of man is "to glorify God and enjoy him forever".
This is true. Those great scholars knew what they were talking about. The greatest way to glorify God is to rely on God, to trust in him, to cast all your cares on the greatest thing he ever did, the cross, as your only hope. Be forgiven and be reconciled to God. This is the one great purpose of the cross, besides showing just exactly how holy God is and how horrible sin really is. Be reconciled to God. Trust in him for your salvation. This is the greatest way to glorify him. To see him as your greatest need.
And then enjoy being his forever. This my friends, is the secret. It is the secret that God is not trying to hide from you. But Satan and your sin sure is. Do it! You will not be disappointed. Unless, you are as Lewis says, “far too easily pleased” and then, well, if that is the case - you unfortunately will never be pleased. For trying to find joy in anything else but the source of joy - you will find sooner or later like we all have that the bottom drops out. As someone has famously said, “All of Satan’s apples are filled with worms” … On the other hand, all of God’s promises are yes, and Amen in Christ Jesus. Oh yes, one other thing before I leave, joy in God is not just an offer, not just a command, but it is also a promise, an unbreakable one, to be found in him, by those who are in him. I am not going to quote the whole chapter but go and read it sometime (John 17) … it is such a blessing. Know this, if you are one of Jesus’s … he is praying for you. What can shake you if you know the very son of God is praying for you, for your joy. Truly all things must work together for good, even your suffering. Yes. Jesus is praying for you. May your joy be complete. Don’t settle for mud puddles. Go all out, go for him. “In him there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore” When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, ….. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world…. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. … I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”(John 17:1,13, 26)