The primary difference between joy and happiness is that happiness is circumstantial whereas joy is not. Joy is about what is happening inside of us. Joy is about who we are. Joy is about our mindset. Joy is ultimately about believing that God’s promises are true, and then living those truths out in our daily lives. Joy has nothing to do with our present circumstances: we can have joy at any time because joy finds its source in what God is doing in our hearts. Joy transcends circumstances which makes it must more valuable than happiness because it is always within our power to obtain. In a world saturated with the search for happiness, joy stands in contrast declaring itself a far more attractive alternative.
God never promised us a happy life. Happiness is a distinctly American trait. Most other cultures don’t expect life to be happy. Throughout history the vast majority of people never strove to be happy. For hundreds of years preachers didn’t preach about being happy. God promises us joy, never happiness. The Bible speaks of the Christian life as a life of joy, not a life of happiness. We would be wise to place our focus on joy rather than on happiness.
But every once in a while, circumstances line up in such a way that happiness finds us. There are seasons in life when happiness is attainable; when circumstances are favorable; when everything comes together so perfectly that we don’t hardly know what to do with ourselves. Happiness is certainly not our goal, but it is no sin either. To the contrary, happiness is a gift. It is a gift for joy to be accompanied with happiness. It is a gift for life to ease off the throttle and give us a break for a season. It is a gift to feel contentment and peace and fullness and excitement all at the same time. It is a gift when God opens doors so widely and clearly that all of life seems to come together in a way that we couldn’t possibly ask for more. We know and accept that there are seasons of pain and hardship, but there are also seasons of joy and happiness that make life seem so perfect, so incredible, so awesome that we never want it to end. Certainly this is only a season. Certainly this too will pass. But it is good to know that God does bring us happiness in addition to joy.
Today I am so very happy, and for that I am most grateful!