We have completely misunderstood the purpose of God when we think our happiness here has anything to do with it. If it is possible, I believe he wants it so, but if it isn’t, if I have gotten myself into a fix that cannot be unraveled, if my being miserable in this life will accomplish his purpose, I know which matters more to him. He is in the position to see the end, while I am stuck here seeing only the here and now and, far too often, neither learning from the past nor considering the future. God knows what is best, and what is best is eternal salvation—the next life, not this one.
God has been saying this for thousands of years, but just like the ones who did not want to hear what Jesus had to say about his kingdom, we don’t want to hear what God has had to say about our physical lives.
Think of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others who suffered long and hard to accomplish their missions. Think of Josiah who, because of his diligence in restoring the worship of Jehovah among his people, was given the reward of an early death—he would not have to see their punishment. Think of John the Baptist who lived a short life precisely because God wanted it that way. He had accomplished what was necessary—preaching repentance and preparing the people for the Messiah. That mattered more than living a long, “happy” life. He even came to realize it when he told his disciples, “He must increase and I must decrease.” In this case, his “decrease” meant he had to be removed so the conflict, and even the jealousy, between his disciples and Jesus’ disciples would disappear. Imagine what that would have done to God’s plan. God used the machinations of a wicked woman to do it, but his purpose was accomplished, and John, the greatest ever born at the time (Matt 11:11), never had a normal “happy” life.
When did Paul say that David died? Not after he got old and had lived a full life, but after “serving the purpose of the Lord,” Acts 13:36. That’s what he was here for, and nothing else. If you could talk to him now, I bet you he would say that the sorrows he bore were well worth it.
Paul makes a distinction between walking “in the flesh” and “according to the flesh,” 2 Cor 10:2,3. He talks about people who make decisions “according to the flesh,” 1:17; he mentions those who live their entire lives not as people interested in their spiritual lives, but only in their physical lives, 1 Cor 3:1-3. We may have to live as physical beings, but God expects us to keep our minds on the spiritual not the physical; on his purpose, not our selfish aims; on the eternal, not the temporal.
It is not my plans that matter. Do I think that because I was only a Eunice I had no hand in the salvation of the souls Timothy’s preaching produced? Do I think that because I was a Zebedee I had nothing to do with what my sons accomplished for the kingdom? Those two people certainly fulfilled an important part of God’s plan. To have tried to have been something other than they were because of their own selfish ambitions would have been to second guess God’s plan.
Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes God does want us to be unhappy in this life, if it means the salvation of souls. Yes, he does mean for some to remain unmarried if they have ruined their chances for a scriptural marriage. Yes, he does mean for some to remain in miserable marriages as long as possible. Yes, he does mean for some to remain celibate if their “natural” tendency is to gravitate toward a sinful relationship. Yes, he does mean for some to spend years of their lives paying society for their crimes even though they have repented. Yes, he does mean for us to give up our life plans for the sake of his Eternal Plan. Yes, he does mean for us to suffer illness and die, to be victims of accidents and calamities and perish, “for time and chance happen to all.” If I think being happy in this life on this earth is the aim, I have missed the point of my existence altogether.
So whether or not I become blind in this life, whether you live long or die early, whether your marriage is good or bad, whether you feel fulfilled in your chosen occupation, none of those is the issue. The question is, what can I do for God? What can I do for others? What can I do to ensure my own soul’s salvation? Until I can accept God’s plan for me with joy, especially when it is something I do not want and had not planned on, I am not yet living the attitude “thy will be done.”
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living, Rom 14:7-9.