Don’t you love when life confirms what you already know? This often happens with science confirming Biblical truths. I imagine God laughing when this happens. It’s similar to when kids finally understand something parents have been saying for years. Suddenly, someone else tells them the same thing and it’s an amazing revelation!
As I was praying and thinking about how to articulate this post, I figured I’d start with the dictionary. So, what is your definition of happy? The first two definitions listed under happy in the Encarta Dictionary are this:
- feeling or showing pleasure, contentment, or joy
- causing or characterized by pleasure, contentment, or joy
We could safely say happy is feeling or causing joy. Thus, to be happy we first need to find and feel joy. So, what then is the definition of joy? The same dictionary defines joy as feelings of great happiness or pleasure, especially of an elevated or spiritual kind.
Joy is an elevated form of happy. It is spiritual and I believe comes from The Holy Spirit. This joy from the Spirit of Life within us gives us our faith and soul wellness as we discussed last week.
I’m quite happy (pun intended) the dictionary confirmed my thought! Being happy is not the same as being joyful.
Anyone who has read the Bible has probably come to this same conclusion. Being happy is an expression of the joy we have within us. Our joy makes us feel happy. Or, it sparks us to share our joy which contributes to someone else’s happiness. But it all begins with our inner joy, which stems from God.
The differences between happy and joy are distinct.
- Happy is fleeting; joy is eternal.
- Happy is influenced by situations and others; joy is influenced only by God.
- Happy looks at the world; joy looks only at God.
- Happy is an external expression; joy is an internal state of being.
- Happy bubbles excitement; joy exudes peace.
David wrote about this his joy in the Lord in Psalm 16:11 (NLT):
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
My joy comes from God’s deep, abiding and eternal presence within me. Because of this joy, my perspective and attitude about wellness and life shift dramatically. In the middle of this life, there may be many things, people, situations I may not be happy about. But I can still be joyful in the midst of them. Therein lies the difference.
We may not always be happy, but we can always be joyful.
This constant state of joy is a grounding force. It whispers confidence into moments of uncertainty. It injects peace into grief. It envelopes love around hurt and allows for healing. This is joy. This is what is available to all of us when we seek God above ourselves. When we let go and let God guide us, we receive His grace, joy, and peace. This. This is why joy is so much deeper and different than happy.
Ask yourself: Are you happy, joyful or both? Can or have you ever been joyful in the midst of uncertainty, anxiety or grief? Do you have an abiding peace within you? Being joyful while not necessarily happy may seem unnatural. Trust me, it wasn’t entirely a natural response for me, either. But while seeking happiness, I found my joy in Him. Try it and see if you can find your joy, too.
Please share your thoughts with a comment below or join the conversation on social media! I’d love to encourage your joy today!
Linking with Carolina Cisneros at #OpenMicMonday, Jennifer Moye at #Jesus&Coffee, Dawn Klinge at #GraceandTruth, Crystal Storms at #IntentionalTuesday, Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart and Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus