Thursday, April 15, 2010
Happiness and joy both exhibit emotional responses within us. But even though we know they are different, we don't know how to differentiate them from each other. Because of this we sometimes don't know how to separate them in our mind. As our blog group tackles the topic "How to live a joyful life," let's talk about how we can and should let God help us to separate them.
Let's start with happiness: Happiness comes from good experiences and fills us with good emotions. You have fun with your family and you feel loved. You get a raise and you feel more secure and appreciated. You buy a new car and you feel excited that you are able to enjoy this new toy you have. But what about when bad things happen? I don't know too many people who are happy when bad things happen. You get a bad health diagnosis and you are scared. You have a life crisis; you might feel depressed. You have an argument with your spouse, or kids, or friends; you are not at peace. And if someone is happy when something bad happens, you look at them with concern.
On the other hand, joy can happen at all times of life. As Philippians 4:1 says, "Rejoice in the Lord, always; again I say rejoice." How is this possible? How can you be joyful always? Joyful when bad things happen? Joyful when you have a crisis? Joyful when a loved one dies? The answer is yes. We can be joyful always. The reason for this is that joy isn't based on emotions, joy comes to us by God's Spirit.
The Bible tells us that joy is a "fruit of the Spirit." So when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are filled with God's Spirit. The Spirit plants the seed of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. As we let God work in and through our lives, this fruit grows in our lives; including joy. Joy comes from knowing that God is with us in all things and at all times. Joy is knowing that God cares for us in the most difficult of
times, and walks with us in our pain. Joy is knowing that God can make good come out of the bad. This is why we can be joyful at all times. This is how we live a joyful life.
The foundation of a joyful life is having a relationship with our creator, God. A life built on this foundation is a life that will have security, and love, and hope, and peace. A life that experiences this deep personal relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, will be joyful because it will never be without options or help. While our emotions are up and down, which leads us to limited experiences of happiness, joy exists with us abundantly and permanently.
Do you have a joyful life? Do you know that God's presence is with you at all times? Do you have this foundation? I pray that you do. Blessings.