Joy verses Happiness

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I enjoy strolling through bookstores from time to time. I’m sure many of you do as well. What I find interesting is that on any given subject one could locate a book pertaining to the topic of happiness—more specifically HOW to attain it (For example: exercise, cooking, positive thinking etc.). This seems like a good idea, right? I mean we all desire to be happy and maybe even to remain in that state for a while. Happiness is all-well and good don’t get me wrong, but did you know emotions such as happiness are only temporary. They are circumstantial, based on feelings (which are not very trustworthy or stable) & fleeting.

While the world wants us to attain happiness what they’re really saying is that we only need to aim for TEMPORARY HOPE. Because happiness often comes crashing down when things start to fall apart or bad news comes. One could act ‘happy’ but inwardly feel lost. Since it’s such a passing emotion why not aim for something a little more stable? How about a level of ‘happiness’ or ‘contentment,’ which circumstances cannot rob? Sounds good to me!

This is called “JOY.” At first thought one might assume joy is merely a heightened level of happiness. But truthfully joy has very little to do with how we actually feel. It really has to do with what we know or rather whom we know. I’m talking specifically about Jesus Christ.

When you read scriptures such as James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” it may seem confusing. How could one be joyful all the while in the midst of chaos? Is that even possible? Yes, yes it is. You see there exists a peace, which comes only from knowing the Lord. This specific peace cannot be shaken by the mountains and valleys of life. See, joy comes from knowing the LORD. In fact, the “fullness of joy” is found by living in His presence.

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Really in order to maintain joy we fix our attention on Jesus and the future HOPE of eternal salvation! When we are looking up we can’t also be looking down. The joy doesn’t necessarily come from our own life. We can be content in ANY circumstance (Phil. 4:12) as long as we keep in mind where we are headed. And for those of us in Christ Jesus we are headed toward Heaven.

Even Jesus himself was able to endure the CROSS by keeping in focus the bigger picture, the joy YET TO COME—the joy that was GOING TO BE His after He was faithful unto death.

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What I’m really saying is that JOY is eternal and happiness is temporary. Why not seek something that will last? HOPE will get us through our darkest times. The joy YET TO COME is what produces for us a here and now endurance. So keep your head pointed toward HEAVEN. Despite what things look like now joy can be yours if you focus on Jesus and the future awaiting you in His presence.

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