Thursday, September 29, 2005

# 89: Joy Versus Happiness

Quite often, unpleasant circumstances come our way and seem to rob us of our happiness. At other times, good things happen to us which make us feel happy. All this is understandable; the more good things that happen to us, the better. I would have to add, however, that it is only better if those good things advance the kingdom of God. It is very natural that we want to be as happy as God will allow. Most often, happiness is a result of a pleasant happening. Therefore, one's happiness goes up and down depending on the circumstances. Quite often, this happiness can be described as joy, and rightly so, especially when it is of extended duration.

There is another type of happiness that is from a totally different source; it is of longer duration and is not contingent on circumstances. That happiness could be called joy in a more accurate sense. The source of this kind of joy comes from how one feels about oneself as he or she relates to the world around, or from other sources of good self-esteem. Circumstances can't affect that person’s joy to any great degree, though happiness will naturally fluctuate.

Then there is a joy that the Bible describes as "The Joy of the Lord." What is this “Joy of the Lord” and how does one acquire it? It comes through the belief process: 1) knowing who you are (having the status of a child of God and having an active desire to live up to that status) and 2) who you belong to. That's it—one's life of joy will always demonstrate those two beliefs. It is a brief statement, but the implications are of astounding importance. Those two facts alone will make the difference between a miserable person who claims to believe in God and a person who truly believes and whose life confirms that fact. This Godly joy will not only be persistent, but will contain a visibly evident exuberance under all circumstances. Worldly happiness doesn’t even run a close second to this potent, life-changing, continual eternal joy. This joy is not the foundation of belief but a derivative (frosting on the cake) of belief: a gift from God to every true believer. If one is not experiencing this death-devouring joy, the depth of one's belief should be closely examined as to its validity.

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