Is joy different from happy?

Someone once said that “happiness depends on happenings.” If this is true, no wonder many spend their lives chasing after happenings and living in FOMO  (fear of missing out) if they miss an event. Happenings, however, tend to become anxiety-easing drug fixes because the problem with chasing after these moments is that the fix is fleeting. The fix is circumstantial! Hence, people tend to live from event to event or happening to happen, chasing a fix but never finding true, lasting contentment.

Life, in general, is hard, but it is broken up by these oasis moments. A wedding celebration, the birth of a child, a family birthday gathering or meeting up with a close friend. It is easy to see why we chase after the next moment because happenings become like a refuelling station for the tough journey ahead.  Is this how we are meant to live? Or were we created for something more? For something more deeply satisfying?

In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul speaks about having learnt the secret of being content. It is clear from this text that his contentment never came from circumstances, but revelation.

Phil 4:11-13 “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

So what was the secret?

 Romans 15:13 “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 gives us the answer to this secret. God is the source of hope when we trust in Him. When we have a confident hope in Jesus, then nothing can shake us. The biblical definition of peace is “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”

Joy and happiness are very different. Where happiness is an emotion experienced in our circumstances,  joy is much deeper.  It is the fruit of a soul in a tranquil state of assurance due to salvation in Christ.

Joy is not an emotion but the spiritual fruit of a revelation.

 To live content with this earthly lot, one must have a big-picture revelation of what salvation means. No matter what one is going through, it cannot separate us from the love of Christ nor rob us of eternal life. Hence, Paul could confidently say that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” – Phil 1:21. He could even sing whilst in prison in chains (Acts 16:25-26) because the Joy of the Lord truly was his strength – Nehemiah 8:10.

This revelation results in contentment despite circumstances hence why one can experience joy even in grief, hardships, prison or even death. I believe the more we spend time in God’s word, the more we align our thinking to truth, the more we live in close proximity to Jesus the more we find ourselves living in joy. What we choose to chase after however is our choice, oh that we would choose Joy.

By Madz Deyzel