But Will It Make Me Happy?
Marybeth Whalen

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NIV)

When my son, Brad, was about three years old, he went through a phase of playing on my emotions when he wanted something. If I told him “no,” he would reply, “But mommy, that will make me happy.” Then he would give me his most drop-dead gorgeous smile and bat his eyes at me for effect. Boy, did he know how to work me over! Some of the requests were for things like a lollipop before dinner or staying up several hours past bedtime. And while I knew those things might make him happy for a moment, they definitely weren’t the best choice for him. As his mom, I knew that sticking to my “no” was the wise choice—no matter how many manipulation tactics he tried!

And yet, how many times do I act just like this before God? I kneel before Him and present Him with a laundry list of things I think would make my life better. In reality, I don’t have any better idea about what is best for me than my child does. My view of happiness is very temporary and circumstance based. While I think I know what will make me happy, I am learning that, in truth, I have absolutely no idea. And this is where trusting God and submitting to His will is always the better choice.

How many times in your life have you wanted something so badly—yet when you got whatever it was, you realized, “Nope, this didn’t do it for me either.” That house you wanted to move into so badly, that person you wanted to date, that achievement you thought would bring success, that child you longed to have—they all brought you momentary happiness, but they didn’t fulfill you as you had hoped, or bring you the significance you longed for. I am learning slowly that whenever I find myself begging God for something, with some whining thrown in for good measure, I have to step back and ask myself the question: But will it make me happy? I know that whatever “it” is, it doesn’t have the power to bring me lasting happiness—that deep indwelling joy that only God can bring. I may have a flash of happiness, only to lose it mere moments later. I am learning slowly to push aside these momentary longings and seek God instead. To tell Him, “Here’s what I think I want, but I trust You to do what’s best for me.”

I have learned that a book with my name on the cover, an outfit hanging in my closet that looks great on me, an accolade for my child, a trip to the spa, or an address in the right neighborhood will not make me happy, as much as I think it might. I can’t look for happiness in the things of this earth, or I will certainly live in a state of disappointment. Instead, I can spend my time seeking God, and allowing Him to bring along unexpected blessings—little bouquets of happiness along the way. That doesn’t mean I don’t still look longingly at a new digital music player or a sleek new laptop and think fleetingly, “Oooooh, now that would make me happy.” But I am learning to pull back and refocus my perspective when I have those thoughts. Will it make me happy? Maybe for a moment. But in the long run, only God can bring me the joy I seek. I am learning that truth, minute by minute, day by day.

Dear Lord, Please help my perspective to be Your perspective. Help my focus to stay where it needs to be—fixed intently on You and not on the things of this world I think will make me happy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

For the Write Reason, Marybeth Whalen, General Editor

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Application Steps:
Write down in your journal anything God has brought to mind that you are looking to bring you happiness. How can you take your eyes off these things and refocus on God and His Son, Jesus Christ? Write down personal action steps you need to take and begin taking these steps today.

Are you being honest with yourself about what truly makes you happy? Are you looking to the wrong things to make you happy? What part of this devotion is speaking to you today?

Power Verses:
Ecclesiastes 5:19, “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift from God.” (NIV)

Isaiah 33:6, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (NIV)

Proverbs 10:2, “Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.” (NIV)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! This is good, it is so easy sometimes to think of other things that will make us happy, when in reality, the only thing is GOD! This really touch me today.

Thank You!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly what I needed! God is SO good! I am currently reading "When Woman say 'yes' to God" by Lysa Tyrkirst and being reminded again that God is in control and wants the best for me ....Thank-you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it made me happy, the things of these world made me very happy, the comfort of sitting on the couch while eating food I like, putting clothes on that I really like, in fact, made me very happy! Using my computer as I browse on the internet made me very very happy, when the Lord answered my prayer and gave me a baby daughter, absolutely made me danced like David as I praised Him, including some compliments that my ears would like to hear have made me happy BUT I was a fool to think that my happiness was the source of ALL my JOY!

My computer broke and it made me unhappy, my clothes were no longer in style and made me unhappy, my daughter throwing tuntrums made me so unhappy, I no longer hear compliments and I was not so happy, someone or anything can make us happy, but when we no longer have all these things or someone that made us happy, can we still find JOY in our heart?

Thank you for helping me examine my own heart on what I think can make me happy, when in fact, it can sometimes bring me pain and not real JOY! God bless to all who read "But Will It Make Me Happy?" maybe so, a beautiful house, a good husband, well behave children, a good career, but will they bring me Joy if I lose them?

Blogger Sandy said...

I was just discussing this very subject with my spiritual mentor last night. Not exactly in these words, but nonetheless the same topic. I have come to the realization that unless I do what God's will is for me, whatever happens to bring me "happiness" is only temporary. The best way to get joy in life is to surrender each day to the Lord, and to really listen to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The best way to get joy in life is to surrender each day to the Lord, and to really listen to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance." praise the Lord! thank you sister. in the mids of PAIN, the Lord Jesus must be JOYFUL and REJOICING to have VICTORY over sin. "Father, if it is your will take this cup away from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours be done. We may not like to spend time or chat with a stinky homeless on the street or the rich and proud people even for a few minutes, but it will certainly bring us joy to share our Lord Jesus in everyway to everyone even as we talk to our neighbors who gossip a lot :) thank God i do not have one lol!

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Needed to read this.....nearly a year after its original posting.

So glad I came across it today and that you let God use you to speak to others through this.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found this website from a friend that told me she reads these every morning before she starts her day. And I'm so glad that I did what a awesome way to start your day and to never forget god's in control!!!!!!!!!!

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