(from my old website)
What is the difference between Joy and Happiness? I bet not many people have thought about this one. Are Christians supposed to be Happy all the time? Do you feel ashamed because life beats you down occasionally and you think that you are supposed to be happy?
What about joyful? How would you define Joy? Isn’t it the same thing as happiness? These are questions that I think you should ask yourself right now and take inventory of your answers.
Let’s start with the definition of each. As you may have guessed by now, yes, there is a difference. Both have to do with a feeling of being glad. But the difference is that Joy is always there on the inside, and happiness depends on happenings!
Ah! You see now? The best that this world can give you is happiness. You can work smart and hard and achieve a good percentage of success VS failure and favorable life circumstances to have the best shot at happiness. Posititve thinking and all that also helps.
But true Joy can only come from one place, the life of Christ inside you! And once you have that, it’s there forever regardless of outside circumstances.
If there was ever a saint that suffered some pretty severe hardships (and wrote about it) it was the apostle Paul, Read what he wrote to the church in Corinth in (surprise) 2 Corinthians 1:8:
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;”
He was despairing even of life! That’s some pretty unhappy circumstances wouldn’t you think? But what did Paul write later in the same letter:
“as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:10)
Notice something, Paul said that he is still sorrowful, but rejoicing. I’m not saying that you will be so joyful that you’re singing praise songs all day while you’re going through tough times, I’m sure Paul wasn’t skipping around and dancing in his prison cell (not that he could anyways with the chains and all, but I digress).
And so it is with us modern day Saints (no relationship to the latter day saints church). No matter what situation we are in we can have an inner feeling of “Joy” because we know:
- God is in control and He has a reason for allowing the situation to happen: “indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;” (2 Corinthians 1:9)
- The poor situation is not permanent, “who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10) and
- And our true life is not here, but is In heaven, and we have that to look forward to: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
I know that I’ve been to that point of “despairing of life” and the discovery that I had the life of Christ residing within me was what brought me out of it and brought me into my current state of Constant Joy.