Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Philippians 4:4)
What is the difference between happiness and joy? Happiness is an emotion. Joy is a quality of being. Feelings change, day in day out, moment to moment. Joy, rooted in Jesus Christ, is a permanent condition, rooted in God, graciously showered on us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
We hear a lot of talk about happiness. “People have the right to be happy,” is a claim often shouted from the rooftops and through any number of mass media platforms. While our Founding Fathers did declare the pursuit of happiness to be an inalienable right, they did not assure its attainment, nor its endurance. We have a right to pursue happiness. There is no guarantee that we will find it. There is no promise that it will last. Indeed, the evidence indicates that happiness is a fleeting feeling fading faster than a sunset. Happiness is experienced relative to the circumstances we face.
Joy, however, permeates every fiber of a believers being. It is a state of being not dependent on circumstances. With Jesus, we experience true joy. A joy that is everlasting and ever standing, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. Storms may rush in and rob us of our happiness, but trials and tribulations can not steal our joy. The joy we have, as believers, comes from the Lord, not from us. God’s joy is abundant. The fruit of the Spirit lives abundantly in us.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
What if I’m not a believer?
No Jesus, No Joy.
I have wrestled with sin and debated with God in the deepest, darkest of valleys and on the highest, brightest of mountaintops. Through my experience, I discovered that apart from God, the redemptive work of his Son, and the continued support of the Holy Spirit, there is no joy–and I would argue, not even any real happiness. While we are separated from God, there is always a sense that something is missing or that there is something better than what we are experiencing at the moment, regardless of how “happy” we might feel at that time. I have found the Truth. Knowing Jesus brings true joy. It ends that restless discontent that is always looking for the next great fix to cure our current condition.
Happiness is powerful when skies are sunny. It runs for the hills the moment it rains. Joy remains steadfast, ever-present, riding out the storms and cheering us on in celebration in our victories. Joy is an undeniable benefit of living a victorious life in Christ.
I pray that you come to know what I know. And if you know it, I encourage you to claim it and live it, fully. All for God’s glory and praise.