HAPPY: A dictionary definition of happiness is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” The definition of the word “rejoice,” from which our word “joy” comes, is “to feel great delight: to be glad.” In the Bible, “happy” comes from the Hebrew root word ‘ASHAR’ which means “to set right or be blessed.” We can cite the word “happiness” as used in a scenario in the book of Deuteronomy 24:5, which says, “When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” Simply, happiness is implied when we achieve something, receive a gift or feel right for many reasons: most times influenced by external factors. JOY: The word “joy” comes from the Greek root word ‘CHARA’ and it means “to be exceedingly glad.” Joy, on the other hand, is inspired by true contentment that comes from internal factors like our faith in the Lord. True joy is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances. The book of Philippians is a great study in the difference between joy and happiness. Written by the Apostle Paul while imprisoned in Rome, this book uses the words “joy,” “rejoice,” and “joyful” many times and teaches us how to have true contentment in Jesus Christ, despite our circumstances.
When Paul was in chains and aware that his life was coming to an end, Paul talks about his faith and trust in Christ and how it had changed his whole viewpoint on pain. I would like to describe joy as a grace perfume that releases it aura into our soul when we have every reason not to feel happy. The joy of the Lord fills our souls and does wonders: that is why it is a fruit of the Spirit and a sign that we are children of God, led by the Spirit of God. When men are saying it is a casting down, we confess it is a lifting up.
Joy is a soul lubricant that strengthens our faith in God especially in times of trials. Jesus Himself said that we would have trials and sorrow (John 16:33), but we can still be joyous in these times. When there is joy, there is peace, when there is peace, there is total submission to the will of God.
Joy reassures us of God’s love especially in hard times. Due to His great love for each of us, God allows us to go through difficult times that try our faith. Through our challenges and difficulties, we can grow and hopefully develop Christ-like attributes – James 1:3-4.
Joy ministers to those in need and also comforts. People can draw strength from us when they see our attitude and disposition to life issues. Joy is an important ingredient in any relationship. It diffuses an atmosphere of unhappiness and depression. Like a viral spread, it is transmissible and contagious. It strengthens the bond between friends and calms down the heat in a troubled marriage. A joyful spirit is what makes you wake up singing in the morning even after a conflict that should naturally end in spite. Joy, like a river, flows from the spirit and makes you bubble when the atmosphere is tense. I could go on and on but it is important to know that happiness is good and should be enjoyed, however, it is fleeting because it often depends on things outside of ourselves, but true joy is eternal because it is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, our everlasting Source of joy.
For Further Study:
Questions for reflection:
- Do I give my situations the opportunity to determine my joy level?
- Can I activate joy even when I don’t feel like?
- Which environment will help me the most – a sad or a joyful one?
No matter what, I will allow the Spirit to express Himself through me. I am a joy source to people around me.