Joy versus Happiness . . .
In today’s world we’ve come to confuse happiness and joy, and we need to be continually reminded that there is a difference. I’ve come to appreciate and embrace the following distinction: Happiness is dependent upon external things; Joy is internal.
My “happiness” is dependent on my circumstances. How “happy” I am is dependent on what I am experiencing in my life. Thus, my external encounters shape, and form, my happiness.
My Joy in life comes from within; is present in spite of what is externally happening to me. My Joy is a condition of my heart, and reflection of my soul, which is why the Psalmist proclaims: “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10)! Joy is a gift of God, which allows us to live above our circumstances and not under them. That’s why Nehemiah proclaims: “Do not grieve, for thejoyoftheLord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10b)
Consequently, my joy is not dependent on my happiness, but the depth of my joy can alter the level of my happiness. That’s why John Wesley (founding father of Methodism) can write:
“The sons and daughters of God are able in a sense to laugh at violence when it comes – to laugh at economic hardship, pain, hell, and the grave. For they are already acquainted with the One who finally holds the keys of Death and Death’s domain.” (John Wesley’s Little Instruction Book, p.107)
We are beginning a six-week sermon series based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “24/7 Joy”. Philippians has come to be known as “The Book of Joy”, because despite the hardships, disappointments, and discouragement Paul and the Christian community are facing, they refuse to allow the external circumstances of life rob them of their joy, which is found in, and empowered through, their relationship with God, and the anointing of God’s spirit!
I look forward to walking with you through the book of Philippians as we learn how to “live above our circumstances”. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or neighbor to join you in the coming weeks as we embrace what it means to move beyond happiness and possess an always everywhere, and at all times Joy!
Love in Christ,