Christian 101 Series

Christian 101: Happiness vs. Joy

“All I want is to be happy!”

Most of us have said this before and all of us have felt this way before. In fact, this might be the reason that you decided to start following God. Maybe your life hasn’t been that great and you’ve gone through some traumatic things that have stolen your happiness. Maybe you’ve suffered from a loss or set back or simply things just haven’t been going the way you’ve envisioned. Then your bad situation gets worse and you feel like maybe God isn’t for you. Maybe He can do all things except fix this situation for me. You find yourself thinking, all I want is to be happy. Well friend, I’ve been there too. And all those emotions you have felt are valid. The Bible says that there isn’t a situation or emotion that Jesus did not experience when He walked the Earth. He suffered just like you and I.

Psalms 126:5 says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” I can admit that this scripture did not make me feel good in my dark moments but looking back I can now say that it is true. God is a good God. He doesn’t just take away the bad or unpleasant moments in our lives He REPLACES them with something good. It is in this that I found myself asking God, “Why do You give us joy and not happiness?” If all we want is to be happy why not give it to us to replace grief, sorrow, and disappointment?

I searched all over the Bible for happiness and what God says about it versus what God says about joy. What I found is that happiness is usually referenced when talking about how we as humans feel as a result of situations, events, and deeds. For example, in Proverbs 14:21 it says, “…But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” Psalms 144:15 says, “…happy are the people whose God is the Lord.” Some other examples that you can read are 2 Chronicles 30:4, Genesis 34:18, & 1Kings 3:10. All these scriptures demonstrate that happiness is a state of mind that one human can give to another human OR himself. Happiness is in the capacity of us humans. God doesn’t have to be anywhere near whatever is making us happy for us to be happy. A real world example is when your spouse makes your favorite dish on your birthday. You would be very happy right? God didn’t physically make the dish even though He was the one who gave your spouse the means to buy the ingredients, skill to cook it, & hands to do the work. Now let’s assume that you could get all the necessities without God’s help for a moment. If we take God out of that equation you would STILL have the ability to be happy that your spouse made you your favorite meal. No matter the size or cost of the gift, because I am just human the greatest thing I can do is give happiness.

Joy, is the opposite. Joy only comes from God. It is his perfect gift that we can mimic in many ways but the true essence and definition can only be fulfilled by Him. Joy is great pleasure, delight, & triumph. Joy is one of the Fruits of the Spirit. This means that joy is simply the product of the time you spend with God. To experience joy is not when you get the thing you’ve been praying for but when God does it in a supernatural way. It is when you get the car you’ve been needing but at an interest rate lower than your credit score should allow and with no money down. Joy is when you’ve been grieving over the loss of a relationship but you can still smile because you know that you put your all into the relationship and you weren’t the problem. Joy can only come from THE source and is God’s response to our difficult time. Joy lasts longer than happiness and is more than just an emotion or temporary feeling. When you have joy, everything around you could be going terrible but you are truly unbothered by it all. James 1:2 says, “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Be glad that you are going through a rough time because it just means God is about to do something big in your life.

So, how do you find joy in your low points?

Step 1: Prayer/Cry Out
When things go bad (which they will) keep praying
Keep open communication with God for Him to hear your pain and for you to hear His heart.
Prayer is not in vain. It keeps you connected with the One who gives joy.
Step 2: Relive Happy Moments
Happiness is the step under joy so if you create happy moments by reliving some of your old ones it will bring you to a place of joy with your current situation.
Remind yourself of God’s promises to you. Pick verses and personal things He’s given you. (Ex: God promised me a house and prosperity)
Thank God for the ‘mini’ miracles that add up to MANY miracles
Step 3: Obedience
Do not let your bad situation keep you from being obedient. What ever God has asked you to do…DO IT! He’s asking you to do it for a reason
If you are constantly connected to Him in prayer then you will hear His voice even in the times you are feeling sorry for yourself and your situation.

At first glance these things seem more elementary than practical but I assure you that these three steps are more advance and harder to do when all you want to do is give up and curse God’s name. Don’t do it friend. Stay strong during this process because although resorting back to your old life may give you a temporary happiness, God can give you a lifetime of joy. The side effects of happiness can be good or bad but the side effects to joy will only bring MORE joy. God promises to fill us up with joy which means that there are levels of joy and I don’t know about you but NOTHING from my old life could ever satisfy me that way. I always wanted more food, sex, alcohol, & money but with the joy God brings He always give me the right amount. So make sure you correct yourself when you say you just want to be happy because happiness was never God’s goal for us.

If you are struggling and want prayer or someone to talk to please fill out the form below. We would love to pray WITH and FOR you during whatever you are going through.

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