She said she was just tired of being alone – and then he came into her life and made her happier than she’d ever been – and she said yes to him, despite the fact that he didn’t share her beliefs.
He said he just wasn’t happy with his wife of twenty-some years anymore, so he had to do what was best for himself – which was walk away from her and go with his adoring secretary who laughed at all his jokes.
They were just barely graduated from high school, but they were in love and happy as can be – spending all their time together and neglecting all other relationships – so of course why wouldn’t they get married?
Our culture puts a high emphasis on using happiness as our measuring stick for decisions – especially when it comes to relationships. As long as you’re “happy” with someone, then the relationship is good to go, regardless of age, marital status, gender, or beliefs. As soon as you become unhappy with them, you have permission to leave – because after all, you have to do what makes you happy in life.
But is this based in the truth of God’s Word? Or a bunch of “happily ever after” fairy tales that we love to believe in? I’m pretty sure it’s the latter, especially when you consider how often this message is repeated in TV shows, movies, and books. I don’t think there’s a verse in the Bible that tells you to follow your heart and do what makes you happy.
You might be thinking, “But Lydia – doesn’t God want me to be happy?”
Yes. He does. In fact, He wants you to be eternally happy. And because of that, there are some things in life that might make us temporarily happy, but which might ruin our eternal happiness. There are some things that must be sacrificed for our growth in holiness because God knows that ultimately they are not good for us.
Therefore, God, in His infinite mercy, cares more about our eternal holiness than our temporary happiness.
Holiness might sound like a drag to some because they think it means cutting out anything that’s fun and exciting and happy. But in reality, holiness is becoming more like God – and even though it does mean denying your desires at times, it’s creating in you a long-term happiness that would never come about if you gave in to short-term impulses.
When we say yes to an affair, to a relationship with a non-believer, to a same-sex attraction, to a hasty marriage, we might gain immediate happiness. But we are eroding our souls with indulgences of sinful desires – and the happiness of long-term holiness is cut off.
I get it. Saying no to something that brings you great joy is excruciating. It seems ridiculous to walk away from that which appears to make your dreams come true.
Until you look at the cross where Christ died for that sin and you realize that this happiness is just a façade. It’s a cheesy counterfeit when compared to the real thing – joy in Christ.
Because He never asks you to give up something of seeming value without giving you something of infinitely greater value to take its place. And He never asks you to give that treasured thing up without supplying the power to do so – namely the power of His Holy Spirit.
Romans 6:12-14 says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
Christ died so that sin doesn’t have to have dominion over us. Even though it might feel like it has a death grip on us sometimes, His power is stronger still. We don’t have to give in to our weaknesses, because He has provided a way of escape.
Romans 6:22 – “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”
As He does His work in us, He is sanctifying us – making us holy – and as He does, our happiness in Him grows. It might feel small at first and the sinful happiness might still feel large. But as we grow in Him, He begins to whittle away those old desires and replace them with new desires. It’s a process. And it’s painful sometimes. But the joy that comes from this holiness will be far greater in the end than the joy that comes from even the greatest human relationship.
So we have to ask ourselves: Do I want to be happy? Or do I want to be holy?
The truth is we can be both. But sometimes we have to say no to temporary happiness for long-term holiness. And it comes by being obedient to the Word of God.
Obedience isn’t always easy.
Sometimes it’s downright gut-wrenching.
But then again – if it was easy, would it be obedience?
Obedience is bending our will to another’s –
Letting go of our own desires for what isn’t good for us
And submitting our hearts to the One
Who always knows what’s best for us.
Obedience is trusting that when we say the hard yes to God,
He will work out all the things we think are impossible.
Obedience is quietly tearful sometimes,
But it knows that the tears are run-off
From the purification process.
It’s painful to fight with your emotions
And tell your heart it can’t be trusted.
It’s painful to want something,
But know it will poison your soul if you have it.
So you run in the opposite direction –
Until you can’t smell the temptation anymore.
Obedience is knowing that the joy on the other side
Is worth a thousand small denials now,
Which is what gives you the strength to keep obeying.
He will hold you fast.
The One who first endured the most agonizing temptation –
Our Sympathetic Resonator.
He will hold your head above the waves
Though they buffet ever so wildly.