The Bible speaks of everlasting joy that will never fail. Why is it, then, that the joy we experience on earth never seems to last? Is it possible that we do not truly understand what joy is?
In our search for a definition of joy, perhaps it would be easiest to start with what joy is not: Joy is not the same as happiness!
Oh, the two concepts are related, but they are on-so-different in very important ways.
We all know that happiness is an emotion that comes and goes. We find happiness in in our jobs, our families, our relationships, our pets, our retirement, and our health, to name just a few…
But the company we work for can close its doors. Death may rob you of your wonderful spouse, your loving mom, even your wonderful child. Your girlfriend or fiance may break up with you, or even worse, your spouse may decide it’s time to move on to greener pastures. Your pets may run away–or pass away–or turn mean. Your retirement plans may be foiled by health concerns or needs of extended family. That good health you’ve always experienced may simply turn and wave good-bye…
In other words, our happiness is rooted in things that can be taken away! Joy, on the other hand, is rooted in things that cannot be taken away.
Here are a few examples of the root of joy:
* God’s Love:
— “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one
and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him
will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)
— “Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!” (Psalm 63:3 NLT)
— “No power in the sky above or in the earth
below–indeed, nothing in all creation
will ever be able to separate us from the Love of God
that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Rom. 8:39 NLT)
— “Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and
special knowledge will become useless. But
love will lst forever!“ (1 Cor. 13:8 NLT)
*God’s Grace: Remember that the definition of Grace is: Unmerited favour!
— Creation itself is an act of God’s limited grace:
“The LORD is good to everyone. He showers
compassion on all his creation.” (Ps. 145:9 NLT)
— The ultimate measure of God’s grace is at the cross:
“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life.
He did this, not because we deserved it,
but because that was his plan from before
the beginning of time–to show us His grace
through Christ Jesus.“ (2 Tim. 1:9 NLT)
— “Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for
everyone.” (Heb. 2:9 NLT)
* God’s faithfulness:
— “Understand, therefore, that the LORD your
God is indeed God. He is the faithful God
who keeps his covenant for a thousand
generations and lavishes his unfailing love
on those who love him and obey his
commands…” (Deut. 7:9 NLT)
— “Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the
heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond
the clouds.” (Ps. 36:5 NLT)
— “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for He who promised is faithful.” (Heb. 10:23 NIV)
* God keeps ALL His promises:
— “Every promise has been fulfilled; not one
has failed.” (Joshua 23:14b NIV)
— “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your
God is the faithful God who for a thousand
generations keeps his promises and
constantly loves those who love him and who
obey his commands.” (Deut. 7:9 TLB)
In summary, then:
* Happiness comes from what we have; joy is something
that we have;
* Happiness focuseson what we have; Joy focuses on our
* Happiness comes from being filled with ourselves, joy is
a result of being filled with God’s grace and strength;
* Happiness canbe taken away, joy cannot.
What this translates to, friends, is that we can have joy in the midst of our unhappiness!
Yes, you may have been given a diagnosis of cancer; but you can be joyful, for your God has promised to carry you through (SeePs. 91:11-12;Isaiah 40:11,41:13,63:9, etc)!
True enough, you may have lost your job; but you can be filled with joy because your God has promised to be your provision (SeePhil 4:19)!
It may absolutely be true that your spouse left you and your children; but you can still be filled with joy because our God has promised to be a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widows (SeePs. 68:5,146:9,Isaiah 54:4-5)!
You may truly be living the loss of the deaths of three close friends and family; but you can still have joy, for God has promised to turn your mourning into joy (seePs. 30:11-12) and to wipe the tears from your eyes (seeRev. 21:4,Is. 25:8,Ps. 56:8, etc)!
As we enter this Christmas season, let’s remember that the Christ Child came to offer us true joy…not happiness that fades away, but the joy of the Lord, the everlasting love, grace and faithfulness of God Himself. Let’s stop confusing joy with happiness. Let’s look for it in all the right places: In theChrist Child Himself!
But how can I access this joy? I mean, I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, but I still don’t feel the kind of joy that is described here. Where have I gone wrong?
Please join us on Saturday for “Accessing Joy…JESUS JOY! Restoring the Joy of Christmas–All Year Long, Part 2.”
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire JESUS JOY! mini-series, please click here.)