I’d Rather Have Joy
I’ve been doing a word study on joy in the Bible, and I have learned so much along the way. I have more joy as a result of understanding what the Bible says about it, so I would like to share a bit of what I have learned with you. 🙂
First, my study has cemented in my mind the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is a feeling of pleasure or thankfulness at something that has happened in life. It is based on good, fortunate, or lucky circumstances. In fact, my Webster’s dictionary says the word “happiness” came from an Old Norse word “hap,” which meant luck. We still use derivatives of this word today: “I happened to see Sara today. The meeting was pure happenstance.” Obviously, the words happy and lucky are not really synonyms today, but they are related.
Biblical joy is a feeling that is similar to happiness, but it has a completely different base. Here’s my working definition of Biblical joy – Joy is a feeling that comes from an intense wonder at and gratitude for who God is and what He has done for us.
Instead of being based on good circumstances, joy is based on God’s character and work on our behalf. That is why Christians are able to have a positive outlook even in the darkest moments of their lives. It’s not a natural optimism or a misplaced hope for better times. Their joy is a confidence that God is still who He says He is. Circumstances may change in a moment, but God’s character will remain unchanged forever.
I believe God is who He says He is in the Bible, and I believe He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins and rise again. Every day I am filled with wonder at how this holy God could love me enough to die for me, and I have joy. The Psalmist said it best – “God is my exceeding joy, therefore I will praise Him!” Psalm 43:4.
All of this is not to say that happiness is wrong. I think happiness is a good thing, a gift from God. Still, knowing that happiness will only last as long as the times are good, I think I’d rather have joy.
Any thoughts? I would love to hear them!