Joy vs Happiness. What is the Difference?

Joy vs happiness. What is the difference?Joy vs Happiness. What is the difference?Remember the song “Don’t worry be happy!” Or when the bright yellow smiley faces were everywhere and bumper stickers proclaimed every possible source for happiness insisting to us “Happiness is being married,” “Happiness is being single,” or  “Happiness is being (fill in the blank)!”

Happiness my friend is fleeting. As the word implies – happiness is associated with happenstance, happenings, luck or good fortune. It boils down to our circumstances being favorable – then we feel we are happy; if circumstances don’t seem to stack in our favor then unhappiness moves in sending our emotions reeling. To experience happiness we think we must feel good emotionally. Some will even try to convince us that happiness is a journey. We all are aware it is impossible to be happy when we rely on our emotions. So how do we handle our emotions when we want peace but our circumstances are not favorable?

The Lord is both our source and the object of our joy. Knowing Him brings joy that transcends all of our temporal circumstances. Nehemiah 8:10 gives us assurance by boldly declaring “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” We can rely on His joy to strengthen us through whatever trial we are facing. So many of us are facing intense trials where we have to stand and fight off the enemy yet we feel we have no fight left in us sometimes. This my friend is the time to rely on God’s joy to give you the strength you need to endure.

Joy is directly related to God. Joy, in contrast to happiness, is the firm unshakable confidence that all is well no matter what our circumstances are telling us. Joy is every believers gift from God. It is the fruit which the Holy Spirit produces within us according to Galatians 5:22. It is a characteristic of God Himself.

We all face trials in our lives however these trials need not rob us of our joy. James 1:2 says we should be joyful when we encounter various trials because these trials produce spiritual endurance and maturity. They also prove our faith is genuine. According to Peter a proven faith is the source of great joy (1 Peter 1:6-8).

Let’s look at Habakkuk 3:17: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls…” My goodness these are some intense problems here my friend! Now hold on look at what he says next…

“YET!!!!!!!!” (emphasis mine because you have to get this!!!!) Though it all seems to be falling apart he is not going to surrender, he is not going to let his emotions determine whether he is happy. He says, “Yet I will REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR” (v. 18). He is going to choose to REJOICE because, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (v. 19). Habakkuk was a man who decide he was NOT going to allow his circumstance to determine his state of mind. He was going to be strengthened by the Lord’s joy and he was in no way going to stay defeated. His circumstance could have allowed him to be unhappy and defeated, but he chose to allow the joy of the Lord to help him to rise up out of his circumstance and move on! The difference between the person who chooses to stay in defeat and unhappiness – and the person who is victorious, by relying on the Lord’s joy, is the one who will come out of their storm quicker.

I’m not saying you are not going to have problems or that hard times won’t come along and take the wind out of your sail. However we have the choice in how we are going to react. We live in a world corrupted by sin and filled with turmoil. But your hope is in a living God – not in this dying world. He is more than “able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). That is our assurance – eternal joy; a joy which comes from trusting the Lord in the MIDST of the storm. And while we wait on this earth until Jesus returns we must not neglect His Word, despise the trials we face, or even lose sight of our eternal reward. These are all key ingredients of our present joy. Happiness is fleeting however the joy of the Lord is eternal.

{Some of this content is from my book, Help! I’m Alone With My Mind; A Guide To Having Victory Over Your Thoughts!}

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