September reflection – Happiness and Joy
Are joy and happiness the same? How are they different? Is there really any difference? If so, what’s all the ‘buzz’ about joy and happiness? They both make us smile, they both give us warm fuzzy feelings, and that should be good enough. Shouldn’t it?
Dear Sisters may I invite you to spend just a few minutes with me as we explore these two very significant words. Very soon you’ll be able to decide if a ‘smile’ settles or separates the significance of the words, joy and happiness.
Let’s now identify the difference between joy and happiness. For many of us, being happy is fully dependent on whether life is “good or bad.” You can have joy and be happy but you can’t really be happy without joy; Joy therefore, is not dependent on circumstances; but happiness is. The psalmist reminds us of the reality of joy that comes when we rest in God’s presence: ‘Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
Therefore, if your happiness is based upon “happenings,” that is; if things happen to go well, you’ll be happy, but if it happens that something happens which is not so well, then you’re happiness is likely to disappear. Not so with joy. Here’s why. Joy is a permanent state of being. On one hand, happiness takes flight when the circumstances are not ‘good’. Joy, on the other hand, stays fixed whether the circumstances are good or bad.
Now, happiness is dependent on the external, it’s a feeling which comes and goes depending on the external triggers of people, places, possessions, positions, power, or posture, just to name a few externals. Our own thoughts trigger our happiness. Are you beginning to see the significant difference between joy and happiness? I believe you are; and what’s more, I believe you are beginning to choose the more permanent state, the one which is not dependent on external influences to keep that smile on your face no matter what the circumstances. Now joy comes from a peaceful space inside; a space of confidence, contentment, a conclusion and a confession that you love who you are, where you are, how you are and who or what you have chosen to dedicate your life to.
Before Jesus went to Calvary He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). You will have “sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). Jesus went to the cross to make sure that our joy would be complete.
Even though joy and happiness have something of a ‘feeling component’ in common; true joy comes only from God. Happiness will fluctuate; come and go; but joy is everlasting. If joy and happiness were friends, happiness would be the unfaithful one of the two.
Joy represents fullness of life in Christ, a fruit of the Spirit every child of God should strive to cultivate as the Holy Spirit leads him/her. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Challenges to your faith in Christ will come, trouble will come, but will not last because your joy will remain. Your place of confident surrender and your times of meditating on God’s word, recalling God’s intervention to rescue you; will cause your joy to be complete. Simply put, your Christ centered belief that true joy comes only from having a relationship with Christ is the place in which you rest.
There is a source of deep joy available to us as believers, especially when we encounter God in God’s Word. My sister, when we believe in God and trust in Jesus, we have nothing to be anxious about and nothing to fear, because we are guaranteed eternal life, and that gives us great joy which we can express as a happy state, sometimes with a smile, because the joy which comes from the Lord is an ongoing reminder that God is in control — that God is in charge of the outcome. So that’s why the child of God faces adversity with joy! Children of God, we are, blessed to have a loving heavenly Father who has promised to ‘never leave us nor forsake us’ that’s a real reason to be joyful always.
Therefore, having reasoned together, isn’t it more wonderful to experience and express joy, rather than react in happiness just because the situation so dictates?
The conclusion of the matter can be summed up in this song I learnt as a child:
“Happiness is to know the Saviour,
Living a life within His favour,
Having a change in my behaviour,
Happiness is the Lord.
Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops fall,
I’ve found the secret; it’s Jesus in my heart.”
Yes. The only external force which will guarantee real joy is when one accepts Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Then joy will be the permanent state of the Christian; a follower of Christ who choose to express joy, no matter the circumstances of life. This is the joy that intensifies our testimonies; drives the communication of our faith; joyfully inspires our fellowship and strengthens us spiritually for all to see. Indeed Christ makes the difference in the life of a Christian, no matter the changes in our life and circumstances.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).