Is Happiness the Same as Joy?
I recently read an article with this title, “9 Things You Can Do To Be Happy in the Next 30 Minutes.” Here’s the list:
- Raise your activity level to pump up your energy
- Take a walk outside
- Reach out
- Rid yourself of a nagging task
- Create a more serene environment
- Do a good deed
- Save someone’s life
- Act happy
- Learn something new
Let’s say you go for it and start to work on these things. You take a walk outside and say, “Hey, I feel pretty happy right now!” Or perhaps you go light a Yankee Candle, sit in the bathtub, listen to Enya and allow the serenity of it all soak into your soul. After 30 minutes you might say, “Hey, it worked! I’m happy!”
Maybe you pick any of these things and after 30 minutes you find that you really do feel happy.
Great! Here’s the problem, what happens when 30 minutes after you get back from your walk or get out of the bathtub, you get the phone call that you’ve been laid off from your job, or your husband has been diagnosed with cancer, or you remember that your child still hasn’t come to saving faith in Christ even though you’ve been praying for 20 years, or you hear back that your mom or dad has finally succumbed to Alzheimer’s? What then? Is there anything you can do in 30 minutes to be happy?
You see the problem with doing things to be happy is that happiness comes and goes — not in weeks but in minutes and hours. This is why it’s dangerous and unwise to simply seek happiness. It can be an evil temptress that rarely delivers anything lasting.
This is wholly unlike joy. Joy is something that is untouchable if it truly is joy. You see, true joy can only be found as you rest in the loving and faithful arms of the God who formed you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:14). As you remember Him who leads you by quiet waters and restores your soul (Psalm 23), who is your refuge and strength and a very present help in times of trouble and who says to you, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46), who sent His Son to die on the cross so that you might taste of His everlasting grace, mercy and love (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:1-9), who knows your frame (Psalm 103:14) and is called the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Joy and happiness aren’t the same thing. There will be times when you won’t feel happy. And yet, in those moments you must remember to both feel the sadness and fight for joy.
If you’re suffering or in despair: remember that the God who knows and ordains all things knows you and your situation. Remember that He loves you and is good. Don’t simply fight to be happy; fight for joy.