God has told us that He created men and women for happiness, and yet the majority in our world today do not experience it.
Many people mistakenly think that happiness is dependent on some type of outward circumstance. In other words, the thought that if I had a better job, if I had a nicer spouse, if I had better health, if I lived in a better house, and another hundred “ifs,” then I would be happy. That is a delusion.
Unhappiness began in heaven—in a perfect society. Nobody was sick; there was not one who did not have enough of anything they wanted or needed. It was a perfect society. There was no defect in the society of heaven, and yet, in a perfect place, unhappiness developed, because a leading angel found himself dissatisfied. Why? He became dissatisfied for two of the very same reasons that people become dissatisfied today. First, because he could not be first and highest in command, so he became jealous of Jesus Christ, who was above him.
A couple of thousand years ago, one of the most famous men of antiquity, Julius Caesar, was leading a group of soldiers through a deep mountain valley. Julius Caesar was not only one of the most famous men of antiquity, he was also one of the most wicked. As they passed through the deep mountain valley they noticed on the top of the mountain a little village with smoke rising from the home hearths. Julius Caesar was reported to say to one of his aids walking with him, “I would rather be number one in that little village than to be number two in Rome.” This was the same problem that Lucifer had and it is all through the human race.
Lucifer wanted to be number one but God did not consent for him to be number one and he was dissatisfied. The Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, sometimes had council meetings together where the angels were not included. These were secret councils. The angels were not told what happened in these secret councils. Lucifer was jealous thinking that he should be included. Because he was not accorded supreme honor, he began to ask some questions in which he impugned the justice of God and talked to the angels about his dissatisfaction. Ellen White wrote, “He bent all his powers to allure the angels from their allegiance. The fact that he was an archangel, glorious and powerful, enabled him to exert a mighty influence. His complaints against God’s government, at first met with no favor; yet being urged again and again, they were finally accepted by those who had before been loyal and happy subjects of the King of Heaven. There was not the shadow of justification or excuse for disaffection; but envy and jealousy, once cherished, gained a power that paralyzed reason and destroyed honor and loyalty.” The Signs of the Times, September 14, 1882.
It is impossible to reason with a person once his reason has been paralyzed. That happens to human beings all the time. If you have that problem, if there are times in your life when you get so wrought up with depression or anger or any other emotion that your reason becomes paralyzed, you must overcome that by the grace of God, or you will not be in kingdom of heaven.
Lucifer told the angels that God had shown preference to Jesus Christ, to the neglect of himself. He then started telling some lies. Jesus called the devil the father of lies (John 8:14).
“Henceforth all the sweet liberty the angels had enjoyed was at an end.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 19. Eventually, the result was contention among the angels. Satan and his sympathizers were striving to reform the government of God because they were discontented and unhappy. Remember, this problem started in heaven, the place that we say we want to go. But here angels are discontent because they could not look into God’s unsearchable councils.
How arrogant for a created being to think that he would have a right to make demands on what his Creator should or should not do. This opened into a revolt and we see this same arrogance displayed by human beings today in all kinds of situations. The Bible says because of this, war broke out in heaven (Revelation 12:7–9).
The translation of the Hebrew word Mich-a-el, which we call in English Michael, is One who is like God. Michael [Jesus] and His angels fought and the dragon fought, and his angels. The war in heaven was angels against angels. Evil did not prevail. The dragon (Satan) and his angels were cast out to the earth. The very same technique that Lucifer used to deceive the angels, by which he eventually succeeded in persuading approximately one third of them to rebel against the government of God, he started using down here on this earth with our first mother, Eve.
He lied about God just as he had to the angels. He also lied about herself, telling her that she was immortal and that if she ate the fruit she would become like God. Only God has immortality.
Since the fall in Eden, the devil has continued to stir up dissatisfaction among the people of the world, even among God’s professed people. For example, when the children of Israel were delivered from the land of Egypt there were 600,000 men over 20 years of age, and of those 600,000 men only two of them entered the land of Canaan. That is an awful record, all because of dissatisfaction.
God had miraculously rescued them from slavery but they did not trust Him. The first time they didn’t have enough water they murmured against Moses saying, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt, to kill us …” (Exodus 17:3, literal translation). They continually complained. In Numbers 11:1 it says, “… when the people complained, it displeased the Lord … His anger was aroused … .”
Verse 4 says, “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Who will give us meat to eat?’ ” They craved their Egyptian diet, not satisfied with the manna that fell from heaven that sustained them in health for 40 years. Today, there are still people craving their Egyptian diet over the original diet that God gave mankind in the beginning.
Ellen White wrote in The Signs of the Times, March 7, 1906, “Do not look on the dark side. When the Israelites were content with the portion of manna that God gave, they found it sweet and full of nourishment. When they became dissatisfied, it was loathsome to them. Content is a blessing; discontent, a curse.”
Unfortunately, “Because of their dissatisfied, impatient, and rebellious spirit, they wandered for forty years in the wilderness.” Ibid., July 22, 1886.
“Whenever their appetite was restricted, the Israelites were dissatisfied, and murmured and complained against Moses and Aaron, and against God …” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1102. The Bible says that the Lord gave them angel’s food. So why were they not happy with it? “In Egypt their taste had become perverted. God designed to restore their appetite to a pure, healthy state, in order that they might enjoy the simple fruits that were given to Adam and Eve in Eden.” Ibid. If they had been willing to deny their appetite in obedience to God’s restrictions, there would have been no feeble one in all their tribes.
“God’s commands are never designed to make men unhappy.” The Signs of the Times, September 29, 1881. God never tells you to do something or not to do something for an arbitrary reason or to make you unhappy.
“They [God’s commandments] are the dictates of infinite wisdom, goodness, and love. While they secure the glory of God, they also promote the happiness of men. His restrictions are a safeguard against depravity of heart and corruption of life. The appetites and passions, indulged without restraint, enslave and degrade the higher and nobler powers.” Ibid.
We are living in a time when men want to please themselves without restrictions of any kind. However, any restriction that God gives is given for the happiness of mankind. This problem of dissatisfaction did not cease in the wilderness. Some hundreds of years later God’s people became dissatisfied with the guidance of the King of kings through the prophets. They told Samuel they wanted a human king. Now just think that through. They already had a King, the God of heaven, but they wanted to trade Him for a human king so they could be like everybody else. So God gave them what they wanted.
Human carnal nature can not help itself but be dissatisfied. Right after Jesus had fed the five thousand, the multitudes became dissatisfied with Him. “Their dissatisfied hearts queried why, if Jesus could perform so many wondrous works as they had witnessed, could He not give health, strength, and riches to all His people, free them from their oppressors, and exalt them to power and honor? The fact that He claimed to be the Sent of God, and yet refused to be Israel’s king, was a mystery which they could not fathom. His refusal was misinterpreted.” The Desire of Ages, 385. This mystery that they could not fathom caused many to leave Jesus and never come back. They became dissatisfied, one of the most successful tools of the devil.
“The world is full of dissatisfied spirits who overlook the happiness and blessings within their reach, and are continually seeking for happiness and satisfaction that they do not realize.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 640.
The reason for this is the same reason the devil had in the beginning. He wanted control as do people today. Control springs from selfishness. It is rampant in people who have not died to self, have too much idle time, and who have never been born again in the Spirit of God.
“It is in a life of service only that true happiness is found. He who lives a useless, selfish life is miserable. He is dissatisfied with himself and with every one else.” The Review and Herald, May 2, 1907.
If we do not overcome the temptation to dissatisfaction, we will lose heaven. It is a habit that once it gains a hold in your mind will eventually lead to dissatisfaction with everything. If you were taken to heaven, you would eventually be dissatisfied with the Lord Himself.
The story of Abraham in Genesis 12 reveals the secret of overcoming the temptation to dissatisfaction. Abraham was seventy-five years old at the time, “Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’ ” (verses 1–3).
God made some wonderful promises to Abraham. First, He promises He would bless him and make his name great. Today we see that has happened. Christian, Jewish and Muslim nations all know that Abraham is great and call him their father.
Abraham knew how the world would be blessed through him. Though the nations around him worshiped idols Abraham worshiped the true God. The Lord had appeared to him and explained the plan of salvation. He knew that someday the Messiah would come through one of his descendants and as a result, salvation would be available to everybody in the world. That thrilled him more than anything else. God had promised Abraham that He would bless him and make of him a great nation. But Abraham questioned how could this be, as he had no children.
“And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one [Eliezer of Damascus, Abraham’s servant] shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be’ ” (Genesis 15:4, 5).
God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of heaven. The Messiah would come from one of his descendants. His name would be great and he would be made into a great nation. But that was not all. Along with these promises would be a test.
Hebrews 11:8, 9, says, “By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he would receive as an inheritance, obeyed. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (literal translation).
Abraham packed up and left his home, Ur of the Chaldees, without knowing where he would be led. Ur of the Chaldees is down by the Persian Gulf in the southern part of what is now called Iraq. Nimrod had founded a whole group of cities there in Mesopotamia, which means the land between the rivers.
It was a very fertile tropical country and in ancient times a large part of the world population lived there. They were a highly civilized group of people. Modern archeology has found out some very interesting things about Ur of the Chaldees. The streets were paved. The streets in the city had lights at night. Houses were built with indoor plumbing with running water. The people did not live in tents but in houses, permanent dwellings that were built out of brick or masonry.
God called Abraham from a comfortable living from one of the most wealthy, civilized cities in the world to an unknown place and by faith he obeyed. God said, I want you to leave your country, and leave all your relatives.
Ellen White says it was no light test that was brought upon Abraham, no small sacrifice that was required of him. There were strong ties to bind him to his country, his kindred, and his home. And what was worse, Abraham was not able to explain why he was doing this or where he was going so that his friends could understand. This must have appeared to his friends and family that he was crazy.
Abraham did not question God’s instructions. When God told Abraham something, he obeyed and he did not need to ask any questions. The Bible describes Abraham as the father of the faithful. The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:7, 29).
So, Abraham left his home and went to Haran. Eventually he landed in southern Palestine in a place that was later called Shechem.
Abraham no longer had a masonry house. There were no paved streets or city lights at night. He lived in a tent and was not dissatisfied because, “God has spoken, and His servant must obey; the happiest place on earth for him was the place where God would have him to be.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 126.
If you are a child of Abraham and you know that you are where God wants you to be, that is all you need to know and you will be satisfied. Unfortunately, dissatisfaction is still a problem for God’s children all over the world today. Have you ever met somebody who is dissatisfied with where they are? In fact, often people come to work at places like Steps to Life and they are so dissatisfied in Wichita, Kansas, that they want us to move the ministry somewhere else. That has happened many times. We are asked why we do not move this ministry to Hawaii or some other place they would desire to be. Why not move the ministry to Colorado where there are some mountains to look at?
If you are a Christian, the question is the same as was the question for Abraham: Where does God want me to be? That’s it. If I know that, then that is all I need to know. It is not important if there are mountains, or how the economy is, or the condition of the soil, or any number of other things. All I need to know is, Is this where God wants me to be? That was all Abraham needed to know.
The happiest place on earth is where God wants you to be. The happiest place on earth for Abraham was where God wanted him to be, even without the temporal comforts of the city he had left.
Then came more trials. It had stopped raining and the land was in a famine. Abraham had a lot of livestock that he had the potential of losing, as well as not being able to get enough food for his family. They were threatened with starvation. What would he do now?
Often when trials come, people start to question if that is really where the Lord wants them to be. But not Abraham; he knew the Lord had led him there so he did not go back to where he had come from. To avoid starvation and losing everything he went as close as he could to the land of promise. He went down to the land of Egypt a while to sojourn there.
Abraham could not explain the leadings of providence and had not realized his expectations but he never questioned Him who knows all. Ellen White wrote, “God leads His children by a way that they know not, but He does not forget or cast off those who put their trust in Him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 129.
God has always sent His children trials of various kinds to prepare them for heaven and Abraham had to go through some very severe trials. In Canaan he found that the whole land, populated with Canaanites, not only worshiped idols, but on the mountains they offered human sacrifices. It was a terrible place to be, but Abraham stayed, knowing that the Lord had led him there. For him it was where God had put him. There would be a purpose because the happiest place on earth for him was where God would have him to be.
My friend, if you surrender your life to God, it will cut short the thousands of problems the people of this world have, because you need to ask far fewer questions. All you need to ask is, What do You want me do and where do you want me to live?
It worked for Abraham; he was at the place where God would have him be. He would then rest in the Lord and wait to see the bright side of what God was going to do in his life. Do you see how simple it is? You just need divine guidance in your life and you don’t need to get in all the quandary the people in this world have.
Thank God for the example of Abraham in Scripture and for the faith that he manifested. Pray that God will impart to us that same faith that Abraham had and that we may learn the lesson of satisfaction in this life and overcome the temptation to be dissatisfied. Remember, the happiest place on earth is where God wants you to be.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.