Joy vs. Happiness

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12

Often our goal is to find happiness.   We Americans spend a lot of money seeking for happiness.  When we find it, it is only for a moment and then we must seek more ways to be happy.  Happiness is based upon our circumstances and is an emotion.  Emotions are not reliable.  If we allow them to be the guiding force of our lives then we are headed towards a catastrophe because we will continue to chase pursuits that satisfy our emotional appetites but leave us empty in the end.  Several years ago a reality tv program came out called “Fear Factor.”  The first season was fun to watch.  But what was edgy that first year was not enough to hold the audience’s attention, so year after year, the stunts got more and more dangerous and edgy – even going over the edge.  Emotions are like that.  They can never be satisfied with worldly pursuits. 
Joy, on the other hand, is a deep seated contentment and peace based not on circumstances but on identity or position.  Throughout God’s Word, joy is linked with God’s presence.  As children of the King, we know that in spite of our circumstances, God is on His throne; He loves us and delights in us; and wants what is best for us.  Even in tough times we are not alone; we are comforted; we have hope.  As we walk with God through the circumstances of life, we are okay and we experience joy.  Joy is not an emotion that we must seek and can never be fulfilled.  Joy is knowing and being in the presence of God.  Since joy is not an emotion it is not linked to our circumstances.  It is in spite of our situations.  Only God’s children can experience real, lasting joy.

Are you joyful in the midst?  What comes out when you are squeezed – blessings or curses?  Spend time with God in the good times, trust Him in all times, and you will find yourself joyful in the midst.  I experienced real joy at a convention in Austin, TX.  This woman was there looking for school curriculum and we got to talking.  She was vibrant, positive, and radiant with God’s love.  As we spoke she revealed that her 20 year son had been killed in a car crash within the past 9 months.  She was sad for the loss, but hopeful that they would be together for all eternity.  She shared her grief she was experiencing at each holiday, but she was joyful deep inside because she knows God intimately and He has comforted and strengthened her.  Those seeking happiness will find discontentment and grief.  Those seeking God will find joy! 

Hint of the Day: Teach yourself and your kids that happiness is evasive, but joy is everlasting.  I am a mom; I want my kids to be happy.  But I have taught them that life happens.  When it does, we speak of the loss, the grief, the sadness, and we hope for the future.  We praise God in the midst and find joy.  Read Psalm 1:1-3.  Joy is being firmly planted, not easily uprooted.

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