How to Make God Happy

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.  – Zephaniah 3:17

I’m in the middle of a long-awaited visit from my son and his family. Long-awaited, because we don’t live in the same state, and also because the pandemic kept us apart for a big chunk of the last year and a half.

I have noticed a little difference in my older grandson, Parker, who is ten years old now, but there’s no doubt he’s the same kid I spent a week with five years ago.

His mother was recovering from the birth of his new baby brother, Kaplan. The whole family was adjusting to the new dynamics, transitioning from a family of three to a family of four, and my job was to make sure Parker still felt important and didn’t get bored. He got my undivided attention for most of the week, as we baked “Nana muffins,” did crafts, dug in a block of clay for dinosaur bones and assembled them into a stegosaurus, built “the most awesome Hot Wheels track ever!” using books as ramps and couch cushions as tunnels, and discovered all the great properties of balloons, including the fact that if you rubbed them on the carpet you could stick them all over the wall and they’d stay. We read books, went grocery shopping together, and colored pictures to welcome the new baby.

Today Parker is still an energetic, critter-loving guy, bursting with enthusiasm, whatever the activity.

Kaplan, now five, has changed more than Parker has, at least in regards to “Nana.” He was pleasantly playful during our last few visits, which were too short and far apart for us to do much bonding. But this time I can tell something has changed.

A day or two after the family arrived, everyone except “Nana” went to the beach. I stayed home and packed sandwiches and snacks, walked the dog, answered some emails, and then went to join them.

As I started down the steep steps to the beach, a little voice cried out, NANA!!!Hey Beepaw! Nana’s here!” I can’t remember when I was last greeted with that much enthusiasm – by someone who not only was happy to see me, but was also eager to share the good tidings – “Nana’s here!” To say my heart was warmed would not do justice to that moment.

The next morning when I emerged from the bedroom and walked into the living room, I found most of the family hanging out on the chairs and couches, engaged on their devices. I said “Good morning,” answered by preoccupied grunts from most of the clan. But Kaplan looked up from what he was doing, and his little face lit up with joy.

NANA!” he squealed again, jumping up and trying to get to me for a hug. “Beepaw’s” legs were blocking the way.

Move your feet!” I barked. – I wanted that hug! Kaplan managed to squeeze through and when he reached me, he gave me the biggest, happiest hug. Patting my back, he said, “How ya doin’?”

It amazes me how someone so much smaller than I am, who isn’t strong or educated or savvy or rich or impressive as far as the world is concerned, can light up my day in a split second, delight my soul, and make my heart feel as if it will burst with joy. It makes me think of something I consider and pray about every day.

Have you ever wondered what in the world you could give to God? He is the Creator of the world. He knows everything, He owns everything, He has power over everything. He is forever and infinite; we are finite. I think of my own sinfulness, my inadequacies, my blunders. Then I think of what Jesus went through for me. The only One who didn’t deserve to suffer, who didn’t have to do anything He didn’t want to, willingly died on the cross to pay for my sins, so that I could be forgiven and be welcomed into His family as His child.

After Jesus did all that for me, today I want to make Him happy! I don’t want Him to suffer any more for me, or even just tolerate me, I want to make Him smile! I want Him to laugh with pleasure! I don’t want to be a child that frustrates Him or grieves Him or embarrasses Him, I want to be the child He delights in.

So how do I do that? Today I took some “divine perspective” from Kaplan. What gives Nana pleasure just might be what gives our heavenly Father pleasure, too.

When I spend time in prayer or Bible reading or worship, do I do it with joyful anticipation of Jesus’ showing up? Do I delight in His presence and want to run into His arms? Do I joyfully share with others that “He’s real! He’s here! He loves us!”? Could it be that we have the power to make the Lord happy – that if we delight in Him, He delights in us?

We study the Word of God to understand Who He is and what He’s done, to know truth, and to get our theology right, and this is very important. But in our searching for knowledge let’s not forget to take time simply to delight in the One we’re studying. We can never know all He knows, we can never give a fraction of what He gives, we can never outwork Him. But as His beloved children, we can still make Him smile, maybe even laugh with pleasure, when we take pleasure in Him.

Prayer: Jesus, You suffered so much for us, and it grieves us that our sin caused You so much pain. Today we want to cause You to rejoice, to smile, to laugh with pleasure. Help us to give back to You the joy You give us. We want to be the children You delight in, nothing less. In Jesus’ name, amen.

45 thoughts on “How to Make God Happy

  1. Ahhh praying your time with them was/is blessed!
    Beautiful words to share! Love what you said here: ‘But in our searching for knowledge let’s not forget to take time simply to delight in the One we’re studying.’

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Awesome story and perspective Ann. My wife and I have talked about the same relational dynamic with our grand kids.Yes, God wants an intimacy with us far greater than we think with benefits to match

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is an interesting idea I’d like to dissect if you’ll permit a former atheist pontificating in your comment section, lol. Can God be “happy”? I’d have thought God would be above emotions, especially being omnipotent. Happiness and sadness seem, to me, to be such weak low-level human emotions that I wouldn’t think God would have any use for them.

    Just a thought I had. As usual, I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to the Bible. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Brian, I’m glad you stopped by. Love, happiness, joy, humor, empathy, even emotions like grief and anger are such amazing things, when you think about it. How boring would life be without emotions? It’s hard to imagine a cold, emotionless “god” creating something so awesome that he himself doesn’t have. When I think of Jesus weeping at the tomb of His friend Lazarus – even knowing He was about to raise him up, just weeping in sympathy with the dead man’s sisters – or His being righteously outraged and driving out the greedy moneychangers in the Temple, or His literally sweating blood (a sign of the most extreme stress) as He prayed the night before He was crucified, and hanging on the cross, crying out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” – It makes me so grateful (another precious emotion) that He decided to become one of us and identify with us in our humanity.
      One of my college professors got in a discussion with us about whether life would be better without emotions. He said he would gladly trade in happiness for a life without sadness, grief, or pain. Most of his students disagreed vehemently. Knowing true happiness is well worth going through the other stuff it takes to get there. (What do you think?)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Slavoj Zizek said something interesting about the crucifixion..

        “The crucifixion is something absolutely unique because in that moment ‘of, father, why have you abandoned me?’, for a brief moment, symbolically, God himself becomes an atheist, in the sense of getting a gap there. That is something absolutely unique. It means you are not simply separated from God. Your separation from God is a part of divinity itself.”

        Life without emotions, hmm. Depends on what the professor meant. Elimination of emotions or if emotions never existed at all. The latter, it wouldn’t matter because we’d have no context in order to miss emotions. In the former, it’s a bit of a lie. There isn’t a way to not have emotion. Lack of emotion is misery. As a teen I tried very hard to not feel anything and I’m pretty sure that’s how I GAVE MYSELF depression that exists to this day, lol.

        I suppose I value satisfaction more than happiness these days. Happiness is nice but it’s fleeting. Satisfaction is more of an ever-present mode of being.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m not a seminary graduate, but from my (admittedly limited) understanding, when Jesus died on the cross, He was paying the penalty for our sins that we couldn’t pay ourselves. He was taking our place, experiencing the separation from the Father that OUR sins earned.
      On the other subject, it’s true that one can’t just decide not to feel something. This is why I don’t believe certain feelings are sin. The choice made about what to do with those feelings determines whether there is sin or just temptation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree wholeheartedly with your second statement! Some people take a very black and white approach to sin and life isn’t that simple; any omnipotent God would know that. I doubt God would condemn a man to burn in Hell for eternity because he stole bread to feed his starving family. Maybe a day or two. 😉

        It reminds me of something a very brief romantic interest said to me recently about using the lords name in vain. She was saying that even saying “gosh” or “oh jeez” is bad because “God knows what you meant” and I said yes, but then God also knows that you’re purposely deciding to not take His name in vain. I could be wrong but I think that intention is a very important thing that we’ve forgotten how to acknowledge in the modern world.

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    3. Of COURSE God knows what you meant, and of course He knows our hearts – better than we do. I try not to waste time “majoring in the minors” in other people’s lives. I’ve got enough flaws of my own to work on. But the bottom line is, I can’t fix it all – I can’t really fix ANY of it, that’s why I need Him. And I need Him to wipe out ALL my sins, blunders, flaws, and imperfections. Otherwise, when I get to that perfect place, it suddenly won’t be perfect any more! Especially when you add up the imperfections of millions of people!😬 (As Archie Bunker would say, in that case, why go to heaven then, “Ya might as well stay in New York.”)? The question isn’t the size or seriousness of the sin, it’s whether or not we have trusted Jesus to take them all away, wipe the slate clean, and make us perfect, as He said we need to be (Matthew 5:48), because that’s the ONLY way it’s going to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Yeah, lots of fun until it happens to YOU. Sooner or later (preferably sooner) we each need to confess the sin of self-righteousness, which REALLY bothered Jesus (Read the Gospels.) and admit that we’re not better than ANYone. That’s the best place to be ready to take that final, life-changing step and just say, “OK, Jesus, I give up. I’m Yours.”
      What happens after that is TRULY awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, and by the way, I absolutely love your expressions of creativity, especially the dinosaur bones, Hot Wheel “tracks,” and balloon properties. I found out a long time ago that it doesn’t take much to excite a child!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s an enjoyable read. …

    I feel that too many monotheists have, unfortunately, created God’s nature in their own angry and vengeful image, especially the part insisting that God hates this or that. Often being the most vocal, they make very bad examples of Christ’s true message, especially to the young and impressionable. A believer in Christ, I can imagine many even finding inconvenient, if not annoying, trying to reconcile the conspicuous inconsistency in the fundamental nature of the New Testament’s Jesus with the wrathful, vengeful and even jealous nature of the Old Testament’s Creator. (Really, why couldn’t Jesus have been one who’d enjoy a belly-shaking laugh over a good joke with his disciples, now and then?)

    Perhaps needless to say, I believe that Christ was/is intended in large part to show humankind what Messiah ought to and needs to be;
    to prove to people that there really was/is hope for the many — especially for young people living in today’s physical, mental and spiritual turmoil — perceiving hopelessness in an otherwise fire-and-brimstone angry-God-condemnation creator. Fundamentally, of course, that definitely includes resurrection.

    From my understanding: Judaism’s messiah is reflective of the unambiguously fire-and-brimstone angry-God creator of the Torah, Quran and Old Testament. The Judaic messiah is essentially one who will come liberate his people from their enemies, which logically consists of some form of violence, before ruling over every nation on Earth. This left even John the Baptist, who believed in Jesus as the savior, troubled by Jesus’ apparently contradictory version of Messiah, notably his revolutionary teaching of non-violently offering the other cheek as the proper response to being physically assaulted by one’s enemy.

    I sometimes wonder whether the general human need for retributive justice can be intrinsically linked to the same terribly flawed aspect of humankind that enables the most horrible acts of violent cruelty to readily occur on this planet, perhaps not all of which we learn about. Meanwhile, when a public person openly fantasizes about world peace, a guaranteed minimum income and/or a clean, pristinely green global environment, many ‘Christians’ reactively presume he/she must therefore be Godless thus evil or, far worse, a socialist. This, despite Christ’s own teachings epitomizing the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth when so very many people have little or nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s a fundamental difference between the Christian faith and socialism – or any other system of government. When Christ indwells an individual, the change is from the inside out. The Holy Spirit within responds to suffering with compassion, generosity, even self-sacrifice. The giving is personal and voluntary. Political movements, on the other hand control behavior by force, and socialists tend to be very generous with other people’s money.

      Liked by 1 person

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