Welcome to post #1! It’s not “all about me” or anything like that – check out my pages for more specifics on that good stuff.
What I think about and what I experience is what I blog about. So, let’s dive in, shall we?
Happiness comes in all sorts of flavors but Joy can only be tasted in vibrant and passionate fellowship with the one true God through His son, Jesus Christ.
Happiness and Joy are companions but they do not always work in tandem. A Christian can still claim, “The JOY of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) even in the midst of the unhappiest of times. We are even exhorted to “Consider it all JOY when we meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). What if James said it this way, “Consider it all HAPPY when you meet trials of various kinds”?
Not so much.
When you look up the definitions of “happy” and “joy” you basically find “happy” defined as feeling good and “joy” is feeling REALLY good.
Pardon me, Merriam – Webster, while I politely disagree.
There’s a lot more to Joy than James Brown’s sentiments: “I Feel Good!.. So GOOD! So GOOD! I got-a YOU!” *BUM BUM BUM BA-BUM!”
Here’s my understanding (and differentiation) of the two:
Happy = emotional expression elicited by an earthly circumstance.
Joy = spiritual state secured in eternal truths.
*WARNING: I’m a big fan of alliteration (if you couldn’t catch that from the title of the blog, consider yourself warned) — mainly because if something is alliterative it sticks in my brain really well, and most thoughts don’t have a long lifespan in there.
This is also why I get excited when pastors use alliteration for their main points in sermons (i.e the Power of God is found in the Promises of God which reveal the Purpose of God) Got it. At least ’til Tuesday.*
To illustrate this word differentiation in an absurd way I have made a list of things that make me HAPPY compared to a list of things that bring out my JOY.
- Peanut Butter M&M’s (a brilliant invention)
- Sitting outside on a beautiful day
- Mocha Frappuccinos and White Mochas from Starbucks
- Holding a newborn baby (usually sitting down because I’m also half-terrified I’ll drop it)
- Cooking a new meal without ruining it (the word for this feeling is probably more closely related to relief)
- Date night with my best friend
- Watching someone GET IT and accept the free gift of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ (nothing compares to this feeling of joy, it’s like the Holy Spirit inside of me is shaking with excitement and I can’t sit still!)
- Witnessing a fellow believer wholly surrender to God’s plan when impossible circumstances enter their life (a humbling example)
- Coming out of the other side of marital conflict knowing, by God’s grace, we are closer than we were before
- Giving and experiencing forgiveness through the power of the Holy Spirit
- Sharing my faith with others (in the moment I’m terrified and immediately turn into a bumbling sweat factory — but after the conversation I’m filled with a renewed vision for why Jesus called me to Himself)
- Seeing spiritual growth and maturity in a beloved brother or sister in Christ
I don’t know about you, but putting Mocha Frappuccinos on the same satisfaction scale as giving and experiencing forgiveness just doesn’t seem appropriate. Unless it means a Mocha Frappuccino is being strategically utilized in an effort to receive forgiveness from me… in that case, you might get some brownie points. Maybe.
The reality is, Jesus didn’t make me “happy” and He didn’t even promise me “happy.” Instead, he promises me trouble and tribulation from a world that hates him (John 16:33) and a constant war against my own sin nature and the Prince of this world. Encouraged yet?
But wait! It doesn’t stop there! While those things will happen, there are other promises of hope and courage. He promises to continue to fill me with “a peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), he assures me “fear not, for I am with you…I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10), he helps me “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), and he never stops loving me as He fulfills His purpose for my life (Psalm 138:8).
Jesus didn’t make me happy, He awakened a slumbering soul-satisfying joy.
This means as I live my life in joyful juxtaposition, I’m gonna have seasons of hurt and pain, bad hair days, and moments of doubt and confusion. But I can always have joy.
The question is: Will I choose it? Will you?