“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
I believe that most people who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, those who are born-again, think that when they are in heaven that they will be happy all the time, that eternity consists of pleasant thoughts, an amusement park mentality if you will, for all time. I also believe they are wrong, for those who have been crucified with Jesus Christ do not seek for happiness, they seek for relief, for an end to the frustration, for peace.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11)
“Fear not” is mentioned in the Scriptures many times, the absence of all fear is one of the main attributes of heaven, a fear that our sinful nature will not allow us to experience here. Not only that damnable fear of death which no man can completely assuage, but the fear of the Lord, that which holds us in a form of continuing obedience to His will and Word. It is a burden that can only be removed by the Lord, and it will only be removed when we see Him, when by His mercy He says to us “Well done.”
The world is and always has attempted to modify the word slave into a derogatory statement, one that is meant to evoke hatred upon the one that holds sway over another in this manner, the slave owner, but the Word of God says, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.” (Eph. 6:5) We are willing slaves of Jesus Christ, and as such our one desire is to be pleasing in His sight, to keep our bodies under subjection, to keep every thought captive for Him, to do everything we do for His glory.
And we fail every day.
Heaven is not about a continuing happiness, it is rest from our labors, it is a mind freed from the continuous heavy and unending pressure of sin. It is frustration abated forever.
It has always been one of Satan’s greatest sayings, and I fear that nearly every born-again believer has come to believe it, “God just wants you to be happy.” No, He doesn’t. He wants you to find joy in His presence, He wants you to realize pleasures forevermore. The problem, meant in no disrespect here, is that word “pleasures,” for would not one interpret that word to mean happy? “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” (Eccl. 7:3)
If happiness is not joy, then what is it, why did our Lord not say, “I have come that you may be happy?”
Happiness is a passing emotion, joy is eternal, happiness requires some form of external influence, joy is indwelling, and one can only experience joy in the presence of the Lord. We can look at that verse in Psalms as this, “outside of your presence is partial joy,” which far too many have determined to mean happiness. If happiness, as many falsely believe, is another way to say the word joy, where is your happiness at the gravesite, where is your expression of it by the hospital bed of a loved one suffering in pain, where is it in the middle of the trials and tribulations, or in the valley of the shadow of death?
Resting in the knowledge of the assurance of our salvation is joy, in the knowledge that He will never leave us or forsake us, that we are His, and He is ours, eternally. “Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Psalm 44:22) Does that sound like a happy thought, or one that brings joy?
Those two words, happy and joy, are so close as to be one, and yes, I will be happy to be in heaven, but my joy will surpass that happiness. There is a peace that passes all understanding, and I cannot find it when I am happy, but I know it in part when He allows me, even for a moment, to experience the joy the Word speaks of. Joy is the embodiment of contentment, and that will make me happy.