“Nothing we’ve done or can ever do will surprise God or cause Him to change His mind about us. No skeletons will fall out of our closets in eternity. He has seen us at our worst and still loves us. Arms wide open, He invites our confession and repentance, which He always meets with His grace and forgiveness.”
I’ve blogged about six false expectations we can have that will diminish our happiness. So what truths should raise our expectations of happiness? Here are seven worth focusing on:
1. God’s Immeasurable Love for Us
In Ephesians, Paul prays that the recipients of his letter may “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).
He ends the chapter saying, “To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
After reading this inspired text, how great should our expectations of God be?
2. God’s Willingness to Completely Forgive Us Whenever We Confess Our Sins
Ironically, it’s easier to be restored to a positive relationship with God than with any other being. As difficult as this is to grasp, when we do, it’s happy-making in the extreme.
God is the holiest being in the universe, meaning that His standards are infinitely higher than any creature’s. It would be easy to conclude, then, that God would be more prone than anyone else to hold our offenses against us. Yet the opposite is true. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Who else will forgive us of everything, absolutely and every time—even when we’ve deeply hurt them?
It’s not the sinless God but sinful people who sometimes refuse to forgive us—just as we are sometimes slow to forgive.
Nothing we’ve done or can ever do will surprise God or cause Him to change His mind about us. No skeletons will fall out of our closets in eternity. He has seen us at our worst and still loves us. Arms wide open, He invites our confession and repentance, which He always meets with His grace and forgiveness.
How secure are we in God’s love? Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
3. God’s Constant Presence in Us and with Us
Matthew Henry said, “Happy are those who have the Lord for their God, for they have a God that they cannot be robbed of. Enemies may steal our goods, but not our God.”[i]
Joshua 1:9 offers this encouragement: “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Jesus promised His disciples, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Here is a source of both comfort and courage: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Our happiness is largely determined by who or what we depend on. If we depend on God, we’ll be happy because God is always with us: “God’s Spirit dwells in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Of course, sometimes we’ll sense His presence more than other times. But He is there for us when life is dry, stressful, or traumatic, helping us and even praying for us: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. . . . The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
The stories of many prisoners—including Corrie ten Boom, Richard Wurmbrand, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn—document that they survived imprisonment and torture because God’s supernatural indwelling presence was their lifeline. We who know Jesus have the same.
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV). Such a promise offers us happiness in the most difficult times and places.