Joy versus Happiness
Some people think that the feelings of joy and happiness are synonymous with each other. When you feel one, you are feeling the other. However, I don’t believe this to be the case. Happiness is often fleeting and depends entirely on the circumstances at hand. Happiness can indeed claim your whole attention, like the first sip of a well-brewed cup of coffee in the morning, or in my case, the first crunchy bite of a piece of crispy fried chicken after church. It can be all-encompassing while it lasts; however, happiness never lasts forever. It can’t stand the test of time when other, stronger emotions come into play, such as frustration, loss, shame, physical and emotional pain, and fear.
On the other hand, joy and hardship are not mutually exclusive. In fact, joy persists and even intensifies despite a crisis. It’s a spiritual practice that grows out of faith, grace, gratitude, hope, and love, and you can only invite joy in when you invite Jesus Christ to dwell in your life. It’s not about an emotion. Instead, it’s about a relationship. You may not always feel happy, but you can still have joy in your heart because Jesus dwells within you.
I honestly never get tired of watching someone open their heart and mind to Christ and seeing that transformation of Joy within them. It’s a perceptible process as if something dormant suddenly wakes up inside them. It’s truly an awe-inspiring moment to see God-given joy accepted and embraced by a newly “minted” Christian.
Although God wants us to be happy, he prefers that we have something more substantial to buffer us against pain and loss. Joy in Christ is that buffer.