In Eyes Wide Open, Steve DeWitt says, “Christians who properly place God as the source and goal of the things they enjoy will find themselves enjoying those things even more. In truth, the way we as believers relish created beauties ought to outstrip that of unbelievers, since we neither find our identity in them nor hold on to them as ultimate.”
Secondary happiness, which is found in something or someone God has created, ultimately leads back to Him. Have you ever pointed to something you want a child to see and then watched the child look at your finger instead of what you’re pointing at? The secondary only fulfills its purpose when people follow it to the primary.
The man who knows his wife is secondary to God can find great happiness in a relationship with her. In contrast, the man who makes his wife primary will be continuously disappointed because she can’t meet his deepest needs. Because he tries to make her into more than any human can be, both will suffer.
Robert Crofts wrote, “Let these earthly pleasures and felicities excite and encourage us to thankfulness, to all duties of virtue and piety, to look higher to their fountain, to God himself, to heaven, to love and enjoy in him, to contemplate his infinite goodness, love, beauty, sweetness, glory, and excellency.”
Paul said, “What is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, NIV).
But, wait—didn’t Paul know that God is our only joy? No, he knew that God is our primary joy. It’s fine for me to say that my children, my grandchildren, and my friends are joys if I remember that God made them and works through them to bring me happiness. They’re not lesser joys to me, but greater ones—precisely because I know whom these gifts come from!
In the movie The Avengers, Thor’s brother, the evil Loki, weary of the Incredible Hulk, says to him in a commanding voice, “Enough! . . . I am a god, you dull creature!” The Hulk, unimpressed, picks up Loki with one hand and gives him a merciless thrashing, pounding him into the ground. As he walks away, the Hulk turns back toward Loki, looking disgusted, and mutters, “Puny god.” Loki, utterly defeated, gives a pathetic little squeak.
All idols are not only false gods but also puny gods. The very gifts of God that can bring us great joy become dismally small when we make them primary. A couch that’s plenty big to sit on suddenly becomes tiny when you need someplace to land a plane. What’s big enough to bring us a little happiness from the hand of an infinitely big God isn’t nearly big enough to bear the weight of all our happiness. Only the true God is that big, and the larger we see Him, the bigger our happiness in Him.