By Rev. Julian Duckworth and New Christian Bible Study Staff

A girl holds a piece of watermelon with a nice bite take out of the edge of it.

Does God want us to be happy? What does the Bible say about happiness?

“Happiness” may seem like a passing thing, and hardly the ultimate goal in most belief systems. In fact, though, it is the Lord’s greatest goal for us: He wants us to be happy. If we allow it, He will lead and guide us to be as happy as we are able to be.

The whole reason the Lord created us was so that he could love us, and what else but happiness do you wish for someone you love? But the happiness the Lord wants for us is not the passing joy of satisfying our bodily desires but the exquisite eternal joy of conjunction with the Lord and true love of the neighbor, things that are harder to see and harder to attain but ultimately far more delightful.

Swedenborg distinguishes heaven’s happiness from worldly happiness of satisfying our bodily desires. In heaven, all happiness is felt from loving the Lord and being of use, living for the sake of others. Everything the Lord does is part of his attempt to lead us to that state, and in everything that happens to us - even the things that are the most tragic on the natural level - he provides opportunities for us to move toward that state.

In Arcana Coelestia 6392, there's this: "...performing good deeds without thought of recompense is that in which heavenly happiness consists." A couple of sentences later, there's another key statement -- i.e. that this real love of the neighbor has to be rooted in a "new will" in us, a will that can only be implanted by the Lord when we make room for it, and seek it.

In the American Declaration of Independence, the "pursuit of happiness" is one of the 3 enumerated inalienable rights that our Creator endows us with. Certainly, the Lord wants our happiness, and wants us to pursue it. In a way, though, if we pursue it directly, externally, we will probably not get it. If we pursue happiness for others, we will be making our minds open and ready for that new will.

The Lord also leaves us in freedom. We can reject his efforts and turn away if we choose to, and while that choice may seem to us to lead toward happiness, it is a passing, natural happiness that is ultimately only a shadow of the joy he desires for us. However, those in hell are "happy" being there because the life there matches their self-centered love they chose to cultivate while on earth. If those in hell could be lifted up to heaven, they would feel tormented.

From Psalm 65:9-13:

Thou visitest the earth, and blessest it; thou makest it very plenteous.

The river of God is full of water: thou preparest their corn, for so thou providest for the earth.

Thou waterest her furrows; thou sendest rain into the little valleys thereof; thou makest it soft with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase of it.

Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy clouds drop fatness.

They shall drop upon the dwellings of the wilderness; and the little hills shall rejoice on every side.

The folds shall be full of sheep; the valleys also shall stand so thick with corn, that they shall laugh and sing.

From John 15:11:

I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

(Izinkomba: Arcana Coelestia 1153 [2]; Divine Providence 37)

Ukuze uqhubeke upheqe ngesikhathi ubuka, dlala ividiyo efasiteleni elisha.

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Arcana Coelestia #6392

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Yiya esigabeni / 10837  

6392. 'And the land that it is pleasant' means that those in the Lord's kingdom enjoy that happiness. This is clear from the meaning of 'the land' as the Church, thus also the Lord's kingdom, dealt with in 662, 1066, 1067, 1413, 1607, 1733, 1850, 2117, 2118, 4447 (the reason why 'the land' has this meaning is that the land of Canaan, to which 'the land' refers in the Word, represented the Lord's kingdom; and it had this representation because the Church had existed there since the most ancient times, 3038, 3481, 3686, 3705, 4447, 4454, 4516, 4517, 5136); and from the meaning of 'that it is pleasant' as the happiness which works of goodness without thought of recompense entail. The reason why it says 'he will see rest that it is good, and the land that it is pleasant', by both of which statements is meant the happiness that exists in the Lord's kingdom, is that 'seeing rest that it is good' has reference to what is celestial or to good, while 'seeing the land that it is pleasant 'has reference to what is spiritual or to truth, both of which are mentioned on account of the marriage of goodness and truth, spoken of in 6343.

(Izinkomba: Arcana Coelestia 1066-1067, 2117-2118, 4516-4517)

[2] To take further this matter of the happiness that exists in the works of goodness without thought of recompense, it should be recognized that very few at the present day know that performing good deeds without thought of recompense is that in which heavenly happiness consists. For people know of no other happiness than that gained from being raised to important positions, being served by others, having an abundance of riches, and leading a life of pleasure. They are profoundly ignorant of the existence above all these things of a happiness that fills a person's inner being, thus of the existence of a heavenly happiness, or of the fact that this happiness is the happiness that genuine charity possesses. Ask the wise at the present day whether they know that this is heavenly happiness. This also explains why many disallow good works, in the belief that it is impossible for anyone to perform them without the intention to earn merit through them. For they do not know that those who are led by the Lord have no greater desire than to perform good works, and that nothing is further from their thought than the earning of merit through them. The new will which the Lord confers on those who are being regenerated brings this attitude of mind with it; for this new will is the Lord's residing with a person.

(Izinkomba: Genesis 49:15)

Yiya esigabeni / 10837  
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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 8002, 8906, 9174, 9210

The Last Judgement 39

The White Horse 9

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 106, 158, 258

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.