Joy is a spiritual state of well being. It is an assurance that God is in control, an inner source of delight regardless of circumstances. Happiness is an emotional state of well being, which is mostly determined by circumstances. Both joy and happiness are gifts, but joy takes precedence over happiness because joy is sustaining, while happiness is fleeting.
Nevertheless, joy often comes through pain and sorrow, something I would rather avoid. Psalm 30:5b tells us that: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning,”
Here are a few things that have brought me joy…
Losing a thirty-nine year old daughter was painful. Now, almost five years later, I find joy in knowing that she no longer suffers from a mental illness. I have a joyful assurance that she resides in heaven.
After my daughter’s death, my husband and brought her two children, ages 16 and 10, into our household. Death had seemingly robbed us of our retirement years. Our friends were skeptical of our decision to raise young children in our sixties and seventies, but we traded temporary happiness for sustaining joy and we have no regrets. Radical obedience produces joy.
I once prayed for a long time for a friend to find Jesus. When I saw hopeful signs of genuine change in my friend, I was happy; when my friend regressed, I was sad. I was on the roller coaster of life with them, but at some point, I finally understood that only God could retrieve, rescue, and restore the heart of my friend. When I rested in His will, His joy became my strength. After twenty-five years, God answered my prayer — my friend found the way to Jesus.
Sometimes I become discouraged when my live-in grandchildren misbehave. I focus on my failures and unrealistic expectations instead of God’s work in their lives. However, when I see them comfort another child or place their allowance in the collection basket at church or help an elderly neighbor, joy fills my heart.
The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 4:17