Thursday, April 12, 2012

Joy vs Happiness


...do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

When we were in high school we studied the law of cause and effect. This law helps us understand that when something happens, there is a result. When you push a ball it begins to roll, the cause is that you have pushed it, the effect is it begins to move. By knowing this simple law of nature, we can also understand happiness. Happiness is an effect. When we see our children laughing, we too laugh. We are happy because they are happy. When we are on vacation and in the hot tub as the sun is setting, we are happy because we are comfortable and enjoying ourselves. If we are in a favorable circumstance, we are happy. If we are in an unfavorable one, we are not happy.

Happiness is much different from the joy of the Lord. One easily says they are happy when God has blessed them with abundance. When we are healthy and well, and our families are fed; we are indeed happy. Joy though is when we are in an unfavorable circumstance, and yet we still trust in God. We still have joy in our soul even at though things are not going our way. Christian joy is when we trust in God no matter our circumstances! The Lord's strength and promises allow us to be happy even when we are hurting.

You can see Christian joy and dignity in the face of the dying believer. As they lay there in their hospital bed, with a smile on their face. Their life is coming to an end as we know it, yet they are filled with joy! How can this be? They trust in the promises of God! They know this is just the beginning of their journey and despite the pain, the decline, the fading world around them.. they are still happy.

Happiness can be fleeting. It can be fickle. It can fade in an instant. Joy.. joy can be permanent. We learn to be joyful when we study the Word, we we live our faith. When we turn our baptismal promises into an action, not a birth right. What are some ways that you can share your joy with others? How have you seen joy present in the lives of other believers? How can you grow in Christian joy?