Genuine joy eclipses happiness on the great things-o-meter. Still, the two get mixed up a lot. It’s hard to distinguish them. From the outside, the two resemble one another. The difference often can only be found in what happens next.
If you consult a dictionary, you’ll read that joy and happiness basically have the same definition. “A state of pleasure.” But joy seems to be about more than happiness.
With real joy, a person can be in a state of inward pleasure despite their outward circumstances. This isn’t the case with happiness. Being happy somewhat depends on the things going on around you. This also makes happiness somewhat outside of your control.
So, the question is, How can a person have joy when there’s nothing to be happy about?
Some might say it’s a frame of mind, a perspective. But I think it goes deeper than our worldview.
Joy seems to connect the things we believe with what we feel in a way nothing else does. Joy, the kind that comes from God, intertwines with faith, hope, and love. That makes for a sturdy rope and even better lifeline in days of pain, hurt, and loss when no logical pleasure can survive.
I’ve noticed this kind of joy in my life, and it’s brought me to my knees with profound thankfulness. Some of these times of joy flowed from amazing blessings, some followed deep sadness, and some came from the perfect contentment of simply knowing God.
I don’t know if a person can be in a constant state of joy. It seems crazy to expect someone to profess joy in the midst of a horrible trial. At the death of my father-in-law, I did not stand up and shout praises of joy. I cried. A lot.
But still a very real sense of joy existed deep below the surface. It waited, respectfully, while grief and sadness did their dance. I didn’t feel it at the time. The tears and loss clouded my view.
But now, I can see joy as I look back. She stood in the background, confident and waiting her turn. And when the time came, she stepped up and wrapped her arms around me and whispered in my ear. “There’s more. Death is not the end. Hold on.”
There is pleasure in knowing these deep truths. Pleasure in knowing love conquers all. A kind of pleasure that nothing can steal away, and that is joy.
That’s why joy beats happiness out every time. Joy stays when happiness says get out. And joy stands when everything else says give up.
And the best thing about joy is that it’s meant for everyone. It’s a fruit of the Spirit of God, and He promises us joy when we trust in Him.
How’s your joy holding out today? Are you struggling to see her? She’s there, waiting to help you find pleasure right where you are. Read these verses and be reminded of God’s plan for joy in your life.
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Psalms 95:1 – 95:2
“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”
“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.”
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
Psalms 51:11 – 51:12
“Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
Psalms 105:42 :105:43
“For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant. And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:”
“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
“Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.”
“Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.”
Psalms 67:3 – 67:4
“Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.”
“Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.”
“And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.”
“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”
“When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.”
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