I have recently been contemplating the difference between happiness and joy. It occurred to me that there is a distinct difference. For a good portion of my life, I have targeted them as relatively the same thing. I have chased being a happy person, or for lack of a better thought, overall happiness. Although I found it, and lost it, and found it again, and lost it, it wasn’t until I discovered that joy was what I was after that I finally found peace.
Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, renewed and “happy” only to have it quickly pulled away from you as soon as your finances, to-do-list and schedule rob your smile? That is the eternal pursuit of happiness rather than joy. Joy comes in resting in the fact that while your bank account may be thin, you are standing in your house. Your commute to work may be frustrating, boring and long, but you have a job to travel to. You have a boring meeting to attend, but, you have been chosen to sit on that committee by your boss. Perspective plays a large part in the difference in happy and joyful.
Happiness comes and goes. Happiness in life is like a grand fireworks display. There is anticipation as you wait for the next big, bright, beautiful moment when the firework glistens in the darkness. Then, as it fades, you wait in anticipation for the next one. Boom! Oh there it is! Wait, it’s gone again and the darkness has returned. Joy can be found in knowing that life is filled with happy moments, like fireworks, but resting in the fact that you are safe, even in the darkness while waiting for it again. Sin comes when we chase the fireworks. Imposing our will on the guy lighting the fuse. Chasing after momentary happiness in pleasures of the mind, flesh, the eyes or a drink. These moments of letting into sin don’t last and the darkness that follows comes heavier and heavier. It’s like running in quick sand. You sink deeper and deeper, while chasing after a quick thrill.
I found happiness in losing 5 lbs. in a week. I found joy in no longer being morbidly obese. I found happiness in stuffing myself with food and drink. I found joy in being able to tie my shoes without getting out of breath. I found happiness on a first date. I found joy when I married her. These are differences in a real life.
Rest in the comfort of knowing that you were created for joy. Joy in your life, the joy you bring to others, and the joy you bring to the Lord our God. Find peace in the life that you were given. Don’t chase fleeting moments of happiness, rather live in the heart of Jesus. There you will find eternal peace and joy.
Deacon Jason Bowden
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