Genuine Joy or Fleeting Happiness

It is the strangest thing, but today I’m genuinely joyful in the Lord. I’m not so happy, but I’ve learned there is a difference in the two.

The root word of “happiness” is “hap” and it originally meant “lucky.” It’s where we get our word, “happenings.” You see, the things that “happen” to us day by day in the physical world try and dictate our feelings of happiness–correction, they don’t “try”, they “do” dictate our feelings of happiness.  We get unhappy when things don’t go our way and we are happy when they do.

Right now in my life, finances are the struggle. For you it might be that your favorite team didn’t win or that your spouse isn’t doing like you think they should or maybe the washing machine has broken. It can be drastic or not so drastic, but the external world around us dictates our feelings of happiness.

Joy, on the other hand, is an internal thing. It stays more constant–even when the physical world is turned upside down. It is guided by our faith in Jesus Christ who has, through the resurrection, guaranteed our salvation.  It is something that the external world around us cannot take away.

The problem we have is when we try and mix the two.  Sometimes we allow the happenings around us to dictate our joy.  When the washing machine breaks we ask, “God, why have you done this, do you not care about me any more?”  I don’t think it’s wrong to cry out to God for help in the time of need in any situation, but it is a problem when we allow our external circumstances to cause us to lose confidence in our salvation or our God.

Remember, joy should never leave us as children of God.  Happiness is fleeting and can ebb and flow.  Listen to what Peter says about this.  (1 Peter 1:3-9 NCV)  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. {4} Now we hope for the blessings God has for his children. These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept in heaven for you. {5} God’s power protects you through your faith until salvation is shown to you at the end of time. {6} This makes you very happy, even though now for a short time different kinds of troubles may make you sad. {7} These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold, which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is shown to you. {8} You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. {9} And you are receiving the goal of your faith–the salvation of your souls.”

The “happy” “sad” in verse six are contrasted with times of trouble.  Yes, we do get sad when times of trouble come.  This is a normal reaction that we have.  The troubles that come are external.  For these people, the troubles were extreme persecution–more than just the washing machine breaking down.  He also points out that the troubles we endure are things which prove our faith.  We are to go through trouble times not losing our faith–even though we may lose our happiness.  That’s how the “joy” thing works.

In verse 8, he equates our faith in who Jesus is with our joy.  It is a joy the “cannot be explained.” It is not “normal” to react with joy in times of trouble.  It is out of the ordinary to have a genuine faith in the times of unhappiness, but it is what proves to the world that we are extraordinary because of  Jesus.

Now, no one wants troubled times.  None of us want to hurt today.  I want life to run more smoothly.  In fact, I’m ready for some more smooth roads in my own life.  But, I am learning that even in my tough times right now, Jesus is still my Savior, God is in control, and the Holy Spirit is still my guide.  I am truly joyful inside.  I am glad to be a son of God.

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7 responses to “Genuine Joy or Fleeting Happiness

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