How to find true happiness
The Song of Songs, also known as Song of Solomon, paints a beautiful and intimate portrayal of the budding marriage relationship between Solomon and his bride. Some blush as they read through this Old Testament book. I know I did the first time I read it as a young woman. Many wonder why God required it be part of the Bible in the first place. I believe it’s a kind of allegory describing what it’s like to find true happiness.
I think it brings to light what Paul talks about in Ephesians 5. Marriage is the most intimate relationship one can have on earth, symbolizing the relationship between Christ and the Church. Paul says it’s a “mystery” meaning we’ll never fully grasp its profound significance this side of heaven. Deep down, we all desire intimacy and want to know how to find true happiness.
Words like “delightful”, “pleasing”, “rejoice”, “praise” and “beloved” are repeated throughout the Song of Solomon as both bride and groom describe one another. He admires her beauty and grace while she delights in his strength and charm. And when they are apart for even a short period of time they long for one another as we all long for sustenance when hunger pangs strike.
Related: What is the Christian’s Delight?
God wants us to delight in Him just as He delights in us. We learned in a previous post that the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. In this post we’ll learn how we can delight in the Lord. He is worthy of our delight, after all. I can assure you that only in God can we find true happiness.
“Delighting in God practically means seeing and savoring the diverse excellencies of God, especially as they are manifest in Christ, especially as he brings them to fulfillment at the cross.” John Piper
6 Steps to Finding Happiness in God
- Get to know Him
- Interact with Him
- Surrender to Him
- Admire Him
- Serve Him
- Thank and praise Him
These six steps will take us to a deeper level with God in our lives. They are vital to true intimacy with Him but are impossible if we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through each one, for it is only by the Spirit that we can maintain the healthiest of relationships with our Lord. Man can accomplish nothing of spiritual significance in his own strength.
Get to know Him to find true happiness
God invites us to know him. Not just know about Him, but to know him intimately. Paul asked God to give the believers “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17 NIV). I love how the Lord urges his people to know Him in Jeremiah 9:24: “But let him who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” (NIV)
God didn’t create human beings just so he could marvel at his own works. No! His plan all along was to have us participate in a thriving relationship with Him. I have found that one of the most beautiful passages of scripture is Jeremiah 24:7 where the Lord proclaims, “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (NIV)
“His plan all along was to have us participate in a thriving relationship with Him.”
Hosea the prophet entreats God’s people, including himself, in this way, “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.” (Hosea 6:3 NASB) And John tells us that eternal life has everything to do with knowing God: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)
So, how do we get to know God? In the same we we get to know anyone, by finding out his likes and dislikes, what brings Him joy and what breaks his heart, how he spends his time and what his passions are. What makes his eyes sparkle? What makes him angry? How does he see nature? Injustice in the world? How does he feel/respond when tragedy strikes someone he loves? How does he react when someone rejects him?
If we love God, we should want to find out all of this. And the source of all of this knowledge is his Word.
Interact with Him to find true happiness
If God is a person (not in the human sense, of course), and the most important relationship we have, then it goes without saying that much time and effort is needed in order to keep the relationship healthy.
If we say we’re “in a relationship” it’s indispensable that we engage in conversation, right? Consider this:
“God had a relationship with Adam and Eve that found them “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). God created man for the enjoyment of a walking relationship that involved companionship, dialogue, intimacy, joint decision-making, mutual delight, and shared dominion. God longs to walk with you, which is why his arms of grace have been pulling you into a closer walk with him.” Bob Sorge
Our relationship with God must be intertwined with everyday life. And the most intimate moments, time reading and studying the Bible and in prayer, are when that relationship flourishes. He speaks to us through Scripture and we respond through prayer. And all the while the Holy Spirit does his job of unifying God with man.
“Our relationship with God must be intertwined with everyday life.”
John Piper emphasizes the importance of praying before reading the Bible. We need to ask God to open our hearts to receive what He says and illuminate our mind to give us spiritual understanding. Without this key element the words will stay flat on the page. “This moment is not just about you and a book. It is about you and the living God. God will open the eyes of your heart to see things in the word that you would not otherwise see.” John Piper
Surrender to Him to find true happiness
“Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins—even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless.” (Job 11:13-15 CEV). What comes to your mind when you read the word “surrender”? Charisma Magazine published a photo that might help us visualize it.
It means offering up all that we are to God, giving him full control over our destiny. We do this by faith, trusting the character of the Lord. It is the sincerest form of worship, as we see in Romans 12:1, where we are called to offer up our bodies as a “living sacrifice”. Think of what we do with our hands, feet, eyes and ears. The things we consume into our mind and the words we speak with our mouth.
Galatians 2:20 should be our life verse: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (NIV)
The beloved song “I Surrender All” offers a wonderful verse that beautifully describes a life of surrender:
All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me Jesus take me now
Admire Him to find true happiness
Have you ever admired a work of art? The intricacies of anything in nature? The accomplishments of someone famous or influential? When we admire a person we look up to them because they exemplify hard work, creativity, bravery and strength of character. We admire them because their accomplishments are rare in a world full of ordinary.
When you look upon God do you see anything admirable? He is like no other. There is much to admire. To admire God is much more than just admiring a painting. It’s more than admiring a person. To admire God means to adore Him, treasure Him and to marvel at Him. With all your heart.
We are commanded to do it according to Deuteronomy 6:5. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Psalm 33:8 exhorts all people to “stand in awe of Him“.
“To admire God means to adore Him, treasure Him and to marvel at Him. With all your heart.”
Just take a moment and think of three things about God that you are amazed at. I have to admit there are times when I struggle to make that list. Not because of Him, but because of me. I allow my mind to get wrapped up in life’s mundane pursuits.
Sometimes we need a little help with focusing our minds, don’t we? I came upon this list of prompts for worship and I just love it. As I read through the list I found myself saying, “Yes!” and “Amen!”, as I’m sure you will, too.
Serve Him to find true happiness
How do we serve the Lord? By serving others. God delights in our service to one another, because it’s just as if we were serving him, as Jesus states in Matthew 25:40. We can find joy in serving others because we know that ultimately it’s for the Lord. Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
“Serving others” can be rather vague so let’s get more specific. Jesus seems to give more priority to those in need in Matthew 25 (NIV): the sick, the hurting, the imprisoned, the poor, the hungry, the homeless. Paul teaches that we should “do good to all”, giving priority to Christians in Galatians 6:10 (NIV).
“God delights in our service to one another, because it’s just as if we were serving him.”
Practical ways to serve the Lord by serving others are: 1. helping the elderly by running errands for them, 2. providing a meal or two for a new mom, 3. babysitting the children of a couple who never get time alone, and 4. cleaning the house of a friend who recently had surgery.
Notice that there is nothing overtly “spiritual” about that list. Yet they are beautiful examples of what’s said in Romans 12:11: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (NIV). And again Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (NIV).
All for you, Lord, all for you. “…serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5 (NIV)
Thank and Praise Him to find true happiness
No one can argue with the fact that we have so much to be thankful for, even those who don’t follow Christ. A thankful heart can easily shift a person’s focus from the frustrating and painful things in life to being grateful for the good things that can be found at every turn.
One important thing that sets us apart as Christians is that we know Who is ultimately responsible because “every good and perfect gift is from above”. (James 1:17 NIV). When things get tough the world tells us that we have every right to complain, but Paul tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)
I believe one of the reasons God included the book of Psalms in the Bible is so that we could have a guide to how to express our emotions. There are psalms of lament and anguish and of questioning God, but there are hundreds of verses that show us how and why to praise God for His “works are wonderful“.
When we give thanks and praise to God, we recognize him as our ultimate provider, our savior, our creator, our friend, our Lord and King. We transfer the focus from ourselves and our circumstances and concentrate on the object of our affections, God Himself.
“There are hundreds of verses that show us how and why to praise God, for His works are wonderful”.
We should give thanks and praise to God both for who He is and what He has done. He has and always will keep his promises. He will always act according to his character. And his love will endure forever. “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalms 107:8-9 NIV)
Relationship with God is True Happiness
Nothing can go wrong for us when we delight ourselves in the Lord. In fact, when we do God will give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:14) An even more precious result is that we have a more intimate relationship with Him. A relationship that goes both ways. “And so all through the day, every good thing that gives us pleasure should be an instance of delighting in God.” John Piper
“Delighting in God means delighting in his love for me and delighting in the fact that he cares for me and will protect me and means to have that kind of intimate personal relationship with me.” John Piper
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