For many, the words joy and happiness are the same. We don’t have a way to differentiate them. However, when we look at the ways we get joy, found in the Bible, we see that these two things are very different. We can have joy and be unhappy! Happiness comes from circumstances in our lives. When things go our way- we are happy. However, when things don’t go our way, we are no longer happy- but we can still have joy. Why is this – and how do we focus on joy and not happiness?
When hard times come in our life- how can we be joyful? It starts by understanding Biblical Joy – and knowing that it is very different from happiness.
Knowing What Biblical Joy Is
1) Joy comes from the Lord. We see this example when we are in the book of Nehemiah. In this book, Nehemiah has gone back to Jerusalem, to rebuild the walls of the city after the Jew’s captivity. Yet, what Nehemiah found when he got there was more than broken walls- he found broken lives. During this time, the law is read, and the people repent. The people were in mourning for their disobedience to God- yet, what Nehemiah shares with them is critical to our lives today .
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Today, this day, the day you struggle- is a day of the Lord. Even the days that are hard, are days that come from the Lord. He is your strength. We need to rely on Him in these moments. Are we happy in these moments- no we are not. But, we can be joyful in the strength of the Lord. These days of rain can look different for everyone: Death in the family, financial difficulties, illness, or even just a hard day with your kids can make you very unhappy. However, when we rely on the strength that God has – the power that raised Jesus from the dead- we can get through any situation with joy.
You may ask how I can write this with such assurance. I witness it every day. The most important people in my life have every reason, from the worlds perspective, to be bitter and hold it in. My husband lost his first wife- suddenly. My children, lost their mother. We went through 2 hard years of adoption. We held a baby and lost her the next day. Our lives have not been perfect. Blessings have come through rain storms. We have had days of hardship and grief. Yet today, even though cold winds have blown on our lives, we choose joy. We have overcome one of the darkest hours in a person’s life because we had the Lord. We have used what God has done in their lives as a growth platform and not as a reason to be bitter. It isn’t always easy- it doesn’t always bring us happiness. Yet, today, they are making loom bracelets and singing to the Frozen soundtrack. They are building legos. They are laughing and smiling and singing. We have suffered great loss. We have the Lord- they have joy.
2) Joy comes from Spending time with the Savior – Psalm 16:11 is the verse that talks about finding joy in God’s presence. If you find yourself in a time where joy is hard to come by- you may not to re-evaluate the time you are spending with Jesus. You can not pull strength from someone you don’t spend time with. I know Mama, you are busy. I know wife, you are busy. I know single lady, you are busy. We are all busy. In each stage of life, business comes. However, finding that time to sit in God’s presence is where will find the joy to get us through the dark places. Are you sitting at His feet today, or are you too busy?
You make known to me the path of life;in your presence there is fullness of joy;at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
3.) Restore the Joy of Your Salvation– Salvation brings joy. Sharing the gospel with others- brings joy. Spending time with the one who has given you salvation brings joy. Being reminded of God’s promises- brings Joy. When your joy cup feels low- renew your Spirit and have the joy of your salvation restored.
We must remember in all of this, that we are teaching our children how to have – and keep – joy! They are watching us for this example!
God isn’t against our happiness. Yet, we can choose to have joy when happiness isn’t possible.
I get it. We all struggle sometimes. However, when I think about all that God has done for me- from salvation to this very moment with my girls singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”- these are the moments where my joy comes from. These are the moments I pull strength from when things are less than perfect in my life. God is that source of joy in my life.
Where do you try to get your joy from?
Worshiping With My Life,