In our culture today, many times we equate happiness with joy. We have this tendency to think that if someone says they’re joyous, their also happy. However, is this true or can someone be joyous and NOT be happy?
Personally, I have heard sermons where someone says, “I might be joyous, but I’m not happy!” They explain that joy is a state of mind, while happiness is just a feeling. Typically, you hear, “Jesus will give you joy, but He doesn’t promise happiness”. This is one point that I strongly disagree.
The definition of joy is “a deep emotion of pleasure, gladness” and “a thing that causes delight”. So if joy is a deep emotion, does this mean it is equal to happiness? Well, if we look at this definition, we must also look at the word emotion.
An emotion is “an intense mental feeling, as love or hate”. So what does this all mean? Joy is something that is so intense and ingrained within us that it cannot be changed. This deep emotion of pleasure and gladness is so deep and intense that it becomes part of who we are. So then, what is happiness?
Happiness can be defined as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”. To be happy means that you are showing a sense of pleasure or contentment. It is like you are opening a birthday present as a child. You jump up and down, rip open the box and find the one thing you always wanted. You then react by saying, “Thank you” with a smile that goes from ear to ear.
So the question remains, can someone be joyous and not be happy? Paul wrote the following to the Galatians (5:22-23 ESV):
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Paul told the Galatians that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is joy, but did you notice the progression? First comes love. Then joy. Once you love, you then have joy. Once you have joy, there is a peace that enters. Once a peace enters then you become patient. Once patience takes control, you become more kind. When you become kind, you do good things. When goodness takes over, then you become faithful. Once faithfulness overtakes you, then you become gentle. Once gentleness comes over you, you become self-controlled. None of these can happen unless the Holy Spirit is in control in your life. You don’t do this alone, but with the Spirit of God alone.
Logically, ask yourself this question. If I love and have joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, then why wouldn’t I be happy?
On a number of occasions, I go through a state of “depression”, where I don’t look happy, don’t care what others think and go into “my own little cave”. As I am there, I feel lonely, sad and helpless. Usually, I don’t read or write, except that which I have to for work. I don’t ask others how they are doing and don’t want others to ask me. I slowly go down into the dark, deep cavern hoping that no one will find me. However, it is also at those moments (or days) that God reaches down from heaven, stretches out His hands and asks for a hug. Then as a father holds his hurting child, He hold me, whispering, “Life isn’t always good, but remember how much I have done for you”.
Although, I try to fight, He holds me tighter and tighter. He continues to whisper how much he loves me. He tells me that I am special and meant to do things no other human being can do. He tells me that even though I am “feeling” horrible emotions, He still loves me and will never leave me. It is in those moments, that my heart begins to race, my breath becomes short and tears shed from my eyes. Sometimes, my body shakes because of the intense understanding that I am not worthy, but God still loves me. I cry and cry because God sees me through the eyes of Jesus.
Once I mentally come to that realization, a feeling of contentment and inexpressible joy enter my heart and mind, which results in the expression of being happy. You see, joy is not just a state of mind, but who we are in Christ. If we are not happy with life, then we must ask ourselves, are we joyous? If we are not joyous, then we must ask ourselves, do we love Christ?
Remember, we love Christ, because He first loved us. When we love Christ, he gives us joy. When we have joy, then we have the “peace that passes all understanding”. Once peace enters, we become more patient with others. When we become more patient, we are show our kindness to others. When we express kindness, we understand that what God is doing is good. Once we understand how good God is, we dedicate ourselves to Him, becoming faithful to His Kingdom, desiring for others to come along with us. When we desire others to come into the Kingdom, we are gentle with others. Finally, when we become gentle, we realize that God is doing something beyond what we can do, so we give ourselves to be controlled by God, allowing Him to continue His work in us.
So, when Christians are not gentle, kind or patient with others, then we must ask ourselves, “do we remember what God did for us?” We must examine our lives and ask God to change us from the inside out.
In this century, the ‘bride of Christ’ can become the most influential body, this world has ever seen. Cultures will change. Countries will change. People will desire to seek God, simply because we have allowed God to give us what we cannot do on our own.
We cannot be joyous and not be happy. If we allow joy to enter our lives, then happiness is the expression of that joy. Be joyful in the Lord and show others how much He loves them as well.
God bless and encourage someone today.