Good Is Different From Happy

In light of the current Coronavirus crisis, we’ve decided to release excerpts from the as-yet-unpublished book Why Do Bad Things Happen? A Devotional for Busy Families. This book will not be released until later this year, but we felt families could use these lessons to talk with their kids about what is happening now. Join the E-Team for updates on Nancy Ruth’s progress in finishing this book.

Unit 2, Lesson 2: “Good” is different from “Happy.”

Teaching objective: By the end of this lesson, families should be able to explain the difference between “good” and “happy.”

Biblical texts: Matt. 7:7-11

Supplies needed: a Bible (or Bible app), a watering can (or something similar) filled with water, a potted plant or a trip outside

Optional Time-Savers & Helps:

  • If you don’t have any plants in your house and weather will not permit an outdoor excursion, stick a pencil in a glass and pretend it’s a potted plant. If you want to get creative, make some flower pedals to stick on the top and maybe add a leaf or two. When it comes time, take turns adding water to the glass to “water your plant.”
  • Collect pictures of someone eating ice cream (or serve real ice cream).
  • Bookmark the Bible verses used in today’s lesson (Matt. 7:7-11; Deut. 31:6). The benefit of this is saving the time spent looking them up. The drawback is that family members don’t get to practice their Bible skills. It’s your call.


If you were allowed to do anything you wanted, what would you do? (Allow family members to answer.) Today we’re talking about the difference between “good” and “happy.” Let’s see if what you want to do is a good thing or if it’s just something that would make you happy. First, let’s pray.

For younger children: Fold your hands and close your eyes. We’re going to talk to God. Lord, thank You that You are omnibenevolent, wholly-good. Thank You for giving us good things. Teach us the difference between “good” and “happy.” In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

For older children: Lord, we love You. Thank You that You are omnibenevolent, wholly-good. Thank you for the good gifts You give us every day. Open our eyes, Lord, and make us truly grateful. Teach us the difference between “good” and “happy.” In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Bible Lesson, Part 1

Last time we learned that God is omnibenevolent, wholly-good. Our goal today is to be able to explain the difference between “good” and “happy.”

I love ice cream! If I could, I would eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, after-school snack, dinner, AND dessert. What would happen if I ate that much ice cream? (Allow the family to answer.) That much ice cream would make me very happy, but would it be a good thing? Why or why not?

[Take time to go back to your family’s answers to the introductory question: If you were allowed to do anything you wanted, what would you do? Look at each person’s answer and ask the following questions. What would happen if you did that? It would make you happy, but would it be a good thing? Why or why not?]

Break: Review with Nature

Let’s take a break and get creative.

Take turns watering a plant (indoors or outdoors).

As you do, talk about how plants need water to grow. Watering plants is a good thing.

  • What would happen if a plant got too much water? Would that be good or bad?
  • What would happen if a plant didn’t get enough water? Would that be good or bad?

God is good. He always gives us what we need. This isn’t always the same thing as what would make us happy.

Bible Lesson, Part 2

Read Matthew 7:7-11. God wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to ask for what we need. He always gives us what we need, but He doesn’t always give us what we want.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you and your family went on a trip to the store. While you were there, you saw something you really, really wanted. If it was me, I’d want a package of jumbo-sized chocolate, peanut butter Reese’s candy. Yum! What would you want? (Allow the family to answer.) What would you do to ask for that thing? (Allow the family to answer.) I would have asked my parents if I could have it, but I already knew they’d say “no.” If I got any candy at all, my sister and I would have to agree on the same candy bar and split it. If we didn’t agree on one, neither of us would get any candy. Talk about a bummer!

Why do you think my parents told me “no” when I asked for candy? (Allow family members to answer.) Do you think they said “no” because they didn’t love me? (Allow family members to answer.) No. I know they loved me very much. Do you think they said “no” to punish me? (Allow family members to answer.) Well, sometimes I had not been good at the store, so I was being punished. But, that wasn’t true every time my parents said “no candy.” Sometimes it was right before lunch. If my parents let me buy and eat the candy then, I wouldn’t eat the good food I needed at lunch. It would not have been good for my parents to give me a big candy bar then, even if it would have made me happy.

That is the difference between “good” and “happy.” Something may make us happy right then, but it may not be the best thing for us. The best thing for us is good. God gives us good gifts. He loves to give us good gifts. God loves it when we talk to Him and He always answers our prayers. When God says “no” or “not yet,” it is always because what we want is not the best thing for us right then. God is always good. He is omnibenevolent, wholly-good.

Discussion Questions

Let’s see how well you listened and think about what we’ve learned.

  • How is “good” different from “happy”?
  • What are some things that would make us happy, but may not be good for us?
  • What does omnibenevolent mean?
  • Describe some ways God shows us He is omnibenevolent, wholly-good.

Memory Verse

Memorize the next part of this week’s memory verse together. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV; Feel free to use a different version if you prefer.) “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them.” Deuteronomy 31:6. If you are terrified, you are very afraid. We don’t have to be afraid because God is always with us. Instead, we should be strong and courageous!

Bible Skills

Practice finding Psalms without using the Table of Contents. Locate the Table of Contents in a Bible. [If you’re using a Bible app, find the list of Bible books.] What is the very first book in the Bible? Practice finding Genesis. Can you do it without using the Table of Contents? Practice.

Optional Challenge: Practice saying the books of Wisdom. Practice finding the book of Psalms without using hte Table of Contents. Work on memorizing the books of the Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. What is the first book of the Bible? What is Genesis about? Practice finding the book of Genesis. Next comes Exodus. Exodus means a big exit of a group of people from one country to another. The book of Exodus tells about how God brought His people out of Egypt. They were headed to the Promised Land, Israel.

Quick Summary & Peek At Next Time

In this unit, we’re learning that God is omnibenevolent, wholly-good. Today we looked at the difference between “good” and “happy.” Next time we’ll look at the difference between “love” and “being kind.”

Optional Further Reading:

2 Corinthians 10:1-12:10; Psalm 71

Additional Resources:

  • Bridges, Jerry. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988.
  • Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain. New York: HarperOne, 1940.
  • Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974).

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