Some people are always happy, or so they appear. Doesn’t this make you want to be around them? You think maybe their attitude will rub off on you and make your day better.

We often confuse being happy with being joyful. They are similar in meaning, but as believers, we need to understand the difference.

There is nothing wrong with being happy! Our kids making good grades makes us happy, cooking a great meal makes everyone happy, and going on vacation certainly makes all of us happy. But happiness is a fleeting feeling, a temporary state of emotion.

Happiness will not endure. It is an emotion we experience. It is a reaction to a situation. The world believes happiness is bliss. That is because they don’t know real joy!

Being joyful is a knowledge that sustains you in every circumstance, and is not determined by those circumstances. Pastor Colin Smith puts it this way: “Christian joy flows from realizing our position in Christ: who you are in Him, and what He has done for you.” It is peace in your heart that stems from knowing Jesus and that He accepts and loves you, and that your future is certain. There is nothing that this world and its ugliness can do to change that or take away your joy! It is deep in your heart, in your mind and in your bones. Having faith creates this joy!

You’ve probably seen or heard this acronym:
J – Jesus,
O – Others,
Y – You.
This relates to how we live our life. If we have Jesus first in our lives, then others, with ourselves being last, then we will experience true joy. It is selfless.

Joy is a characteristic of God’s people. It comes from having the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and shows as a fruit of the Spirit. It pours out of us in every area of our life, not just our face. Regardless of us being happy or sad, when we focus on Christ and what He’s done for us and who we are, that pure joy far surpasses what temporary happiness could ever give.

You hear of christians in other countries that are imprisoned for their faith and tortured, yet they remain joyful! Even Paul spoke of his joy when he was imprisoned. He wrote several letters from prison that specifically mentioned being joyful, a total of 16 times in his letter to the Philippian church!

The Scriptures speak of joy and rejoicing over 400 times, whereas it only speaks of being happy about 50 times. Here are a few examples:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk 3:17-18
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Psalm 51:12
“The hope of the righteous brings joy…”
Proverbs 10:28
“A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries the bones.”
Proverbs 17:22
“For in severe test and affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”
2 Corinthians 8:2
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!”
Psalm 100:1
“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 13:52

So when you are feeling heavily depressed or deeply heartbroken, remember that joy resides within your heart, and let it fill you to overflowing! You have so much to be thankful for! You can be happy that you have that joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart! Where? Down in your heart to stay. (Are you singing it?) Take a moment and express your joy to the Lord!

My final word of blessing to you today is from Romans 15:13:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Food for thought: When was the last time you felt real joy?

Fun facts: Matthieu Ricard is thought to be the happiest person in the world. He is a 70 year old French Buddhist monk, photographer, author and humanitarian.

Photo by: Katherine Perrin – Karli jumps for joy in Haiti