It seems that everybody has become interested in the pursuit of happiness lately. Oprah has made an issue of it on her program, Will Smith has done a movie on it, numerous scholarly studies are being done on it and a whole new genre of books on the topic are hitting the shelves, some of them instant bestsellers.
Happiness, of course, is one of the central themes of Scripture. The happiness of the creature, however, is never presented apart from the fullness of the Creator. To put it differently: The Bible presents personal happiness as the primary evidence that the excellence of God has been fully apprehended. God’s perfection is best expressed in man’s delight, for, as John Piper has written, “enjoying God makes him look supremely valuable”.
Happiness, therefore, was never intended as a mere experience for the benefit of the individual. Rather, it should be seen as the heart’s response to the glory of God and so as the primary testimony of God’s greatness. The experience of fullness and contentment so desperately sought by the world can never be found apart from the fullness and contentment that exists in God alone. The supreme worth of God is what causes satisfaction in the heart of a person, and nothing else.
As Jonathan Edwards wrote three centuries ago: “The end of the creation is that God may communicate happiness to the creature; for if God created the world that he may be glorified in the creature, he created it that they might rejoice in his glory.”