Affliction

Greetings,

In our study on the Rebelution Forums of John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life, the following question came up:

Is it obvious that all men seek happiness (even those who commit suicide)? Is the pursuit of happiness inevitable? How do you think the Bible regards the pursuit of Happiness? Cite Scripture verses in your answer.

The following is my answer.

In each man there is the deep requirement to seek his own happiness, or what appears to him to be happiness. This last qualifier is important because we are very often wrong. We are in fact very rarely right, and even then it is only because we relinquished our understanding in favor of God’s wisdom. Understanding what true happiness is and where its source is one of the most important things that we can do in life (of you look at it right, it is the most important thing). To put a definition of happiness that is different from God’s, and then to seek after that happiness is to commit idolatry: for the true definition of true happiness is God’s presence and the source of true happiness is God.

But God’s definition of happiness (or joy, as some people have distinguished it as) is very different from our definitions, and may seem to be the exact opposite from what we want. But God’s definition is always true and best, for God always knows best.

Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you,] and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

God considers pain, affliction, and suffering to be in His plans for our joy! This is all across the Bible. There is deprivation of immediate pleasures (Hebrews 11:25), pain and torture (Hebrews 11:36-39). but God sees all these things as blessings, and desires that we should also (Acts 5:40-41).

Mark 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

This is because God’s blessings include joy, peace, and great love in the midst of our circumstances. These are not dependent upon our material and physical well-being, but transcends them. And by us being tormented and attacked by the world, we are being assured that we are on Christ’s side! The problem is when you are not being persecuted! This does not mean that God will never give us success and safety on earth, nor that it is never in God’s will for us to own a Cadillac, but that we ought not to be surprised, worried, confused, or downhearted when hard times come because of our faith. Rejoice instead that God saw fit to bless you in that way.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye;] for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

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