God’s path to happiness is different than the one we would naturally choose.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, gave us a pathway to happiness called the beatitudes.
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
— Matthew 5:3–4
You could translate that as “God makes happy …” or “God fills with joy …”
The problem is, they don’t make sense.
God makes happy those who … mourn?
God makes happy those who … are persecuted?
What was Jesus thinking?
Yes, God wants you to be happy. But, his pathway to your happiness is very different than your pathway to your happiness.
We tend to move in this direction:
HAPPY > HEALTHY > HOLY
We do what it takes to avoid pain and experience pleasure, right now, and then hope that once we’re happy, we’ll make healthy choices and get closer to God.
God’s pathway to your happiness looks like this:
HOLY > HEALTHY > HAPPY
His chief goal for you isn’t your happiness, but your holiness. He wants you to become more like his Son, Jesus in your inner character.
As you become less selfish and more selfless, less sinful and more godly, you’ll make healthier choices in your life and your relationships.
The end result of being holy and healthy is ultimately, being happy (being blessed by God).
Never assume God isn’t concerned with your happiness. Just understand that his pathway to your happiness starts with holiness.
And how does God make us holy? By teaching us to depend on him, to embrace pain instead of escaping it, to walk through suffering for his name, to be humble and merciful and loving.
Suddenly, Jesus’ sermon makes sense if you understand them at a deeper level.
Happy are those who are willing to get to happiness through the process of being made holy by their pain.
Here’s the good news:
Your pain always matters.
Your pain is never wasted.
Your pain serves the purpose of identifying you with the One who suffered so much for you.
This article originally appeared on BrandonACox.com.