During this fall season I hope that you are finding joy! As we all have experienced at one time or other, life doesn’t always give us all that we want, all that we thought and all that we deserve or hope for. Even so, we can still be fulfilled and find joy in our journey.
In the experiences that I have had in life I can’t say that there have always been feelings of joy or happiness. However when I don’t experience happiness I cannot let myself get confused with joy because they are different. If there is something to be aware of it is that there is always another pathway parallel to happiness and that is sadness, depression, and sorrow. There are painful and hurtful things that we experience every day because of situations at work, home or play. Is there a way for us to stay happy and have real joy in our lives?
There is no guarantee that things will be easy but happiness can happen when circumstances around us are great. For example when we go on a vacation, spend a beautiful sunny day at the beach, have chocolate, purchase a new car, home or clothes, or maybe it’s that great post we read on Facebook… these things can make us happy! However, happiness can change quickly when you lose your job, have a loss of money or stocks, your health is suffering, and you aren’t able to go on that trip or get and do the things you once loved.
Let’s look at the definitions of Happiness and Joy and understand what the difference actually is:
HAPPINESS: is the state of being happy…. a pleasurable or satisfying experience.
JOY: is an inner attitude, it is a settled assurance, a confidence that moves us to rejoice.
Happiness and Joy are very similar in many ways but as you can see happiness is a state of experience whereas spiritual joy is an inner attitude and an assurance. The word "happy" comes from the Hebrew root word ashar and means "to set right or be blessed." Joy goes much deeper than happiness. The word “joy” comes from the Greek root word chara and means "to be exceedingly glad." Regardless if things go sideways and we are not happy we can still find joy. No matter what we are experiencing we can know that there is more and that there is a hope. True joy is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances. Joy is uncompromising. It’s a settled contentment and hope in our hearts. So where do we find this kind of joy?
Joy, is true contentment that comes from internal factors like our faith in the Lord.
James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” How could we ever consider that going through difficulties and trials would be a reason to feel joy? James 1:3-4 gives us a clue when it says, “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The deep, abiding joy comes as we persevere through trials, with God’s help, our faith matures and we are strengthened!
It’s a super natural delight that comes from God and in the person of Jesus Christ. Joy is rooted and ground in Christ, it’s a relationship with him. It is foundational and the spirit of joy is manifest in our lives when we are remaining in Him.
Happiness tends to be fleeting and is dependent upon temporal factors like circumstances or other people, but that can change quickly. Happiness is external and Joy is internal. Happiness is also based on chance (luck) which is elusive. Whereas joy is based on choice as well as an inner attitude and it is a fixed state of heart, mind and soul. Joy is based on Christ and in Philippians 4:11 (NIV) Paul a disciple of Christ said:
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
These verses also share about the joy that Paul had regardless of what was happening in his life:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4: 16-18
In this life we have a lot of distractions that try to destroy our purpose and diminish our joy but through that we can discover the new opportunities that joy gives. No matter what happens we can be found in Christ.
Focus on what matters daily and seek to find joy in what you are doing and rejoice in everything that God is doing through you and others. Our joy isn’t found in other people or things it is in proclaiming what Christ has done and is doing, living with the right attitude and finding the ultimate joy that we can have through Christ.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” - Phil 1:21.
This is a profound word and we need to be a living examples of this. When you’re in a relationship with Christ it is a win win situation. You’ll never loose when you choose to live for Jesus because He is joy. Jesus is all you’ll ever need. When we surrender our lives to Him we can experience and find ultimate joy. Are you seeking and desiring to have that kind of joy in your life?
NOTE: For further study about spiritual joy read about Paul’s life in the book of Philippians and about the joy that he found, regardless of his experiences.