Although I learned that as a widdle teen in church, it’s not just a “Christian” thing. Let’s briefly go over the main differences.
Happiness is fleeting – it only lasts temporarily. Joy is never-ending; it’s eternal. That’s a fact shared universally.
Happiness depends on what happens. Joy derives from God. In other words, happiness is based off of circumstances and/or people. Joy comes from your faith – your relationship with Christ. I read somewhere that joy is an attitude that defies circumstance which makes sense because although your situation may change, God does not.
Now that we’ve differentiated between the two, let me just say, I haven’t had joy lately.
Yes, I’ve been experiencing happiness with the opportunities that have come my way. Yes, I’m happy I’m alive and yes, I love life but I haven’t been living a joyous one.
I needed to check myself. What the heck was up with me? I would feel down out of nowhere! I would snap out of it, of course, but it would come back here and there. I felt like a robot. And, it didn’t help when I found myself scrolling through my favorite blogs and instagrammers who seemingly were living more fulfilling lives than I was. Social media was supposed to be my escape but it turned out to be the main remainder of what I was missing: true joy. I was restless, unsatisfied, wanting of more. I knew of what (more like Whom) I needed but it was hard to get back on track to where I used to be.
Now, I’ve spoken of this “blah” feeling before here. (I need to read it again to remind myself that just because I fall down, doesn’t mean I’m back to where I started. Same goes for you.) I am fed UP with this feeling and I will not let it win. I want to have a peace everyone can see. I want to have joy, not momentary bouts of happiness! Like, what is that?! I’m so done, man.
You may feel sad about anything, everything. Maybe you’re struggling financially, maybe you’re single and you’re wondering why, maybe you’re in a relationship and you aren’t being treated well, maybe school is kicking you in the butt, maybe you’re having issues in your family, maybe maybe maybe. And so you find solace in drinks, drugs, friends, games, television, media, social media – you name it.
You’re looking in the wrong place.
In my self evaluation, I noticed that I was beginning to take pleasure in earthly things too much. For me, it’s less about the material things and more about my quest to make it. I was actually fearing God’s return and the world’s (as we know it) end because there was so much I wanted to accomplish. And to be honest, I’m still struggling with that. And it mostly has to do with my need to know what my future entails. I’ve let my envisionment blind me. Paradoxical, huh?
As a follower of Christ, we are to take joy/take heart/be joyous in the Lord because it is He that has given us life! We are supposed to rejoice in the fact that we will be celebrating a new life that is to come – one that will never end! It’s a new life that only exists because of the immense of love Jesus holds for us. Who are we to think we know what’s good enough for us?
Why aren’t we experiencing this joy? The root of it is worry. Worrying causes us to miss out on this gift of a joyous life because we obviously don’t trust God enough to handle any issues we are facing. Why? We have control issues. I know I do!
Like I was mentioning before, I like knowing. I like being in charge of myself. I like knowing what comes next. I like being prepared. So it’s difficult to whole heartedly hand over the reins of my life to the one Who created it. It shouldn’t be so, but it is. I mean, HE CREATED IT. I was only giving him the parts of my life that I was willing to cast his way. At one point, I thought I actually did surrender my life completely until I took note of my actions. For example, I would replace the word “worry” with “think.” I would convince myself that thinking about an issue isn’t the same as worrying. Either way, I was carrying it with me!
Actually, it’s more than control issues, it’s trust, as well! If we trusted God with everything, we wouldn’t have a care. I look at my mother – a woman whose doctors are saying that she needs to go in for yet another surgery (for the 8th time), a woman who has hospital bills that she has no idea how she’ll pay for, and yet she smiles from ear to ear, sings, reads the bible, encourages and prays on a daily! Like, what?!
I’ll tell you what.
Philippians 4:4-8 says:
Always Be Joyful
4 Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful! 5 Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. 6 Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. 7 Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. 9 Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you.
This is the version of how I learned it:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
You know, I always laugh when God reveals something to me. It’s these “duh” moments that I’m just so grateful for.
For the month of January till now, my bible has been opened to the chapter of Phillippians. I initially ventured off to that chapter because I just “randomly” wanted to meditate on it. I had a couple of key verses that I highlighted and knew by heart since I was a child. (They are partially the verses I just shared with you.) I thought nothing of it because when you’re so accustomed to what you think you know, you don’t read into it as well as you should.
Well, I came back from spring break this week and I was feeling “blah” again. I told myself to snap out of it because the sun was shining and there’s no snow on the ground. But that would have atoned for my happiness. I laid in my bed, thinking “I’ll just take a nap” but sleep wasn’t coming to me. Something in my spirit told me I was in desperate need of some quiet time. I rolled over to get up and brushed up against my bible. Philippians 4 was staring right back at me.
I started doing some research and discovered that the book of Philippians is a great reference for learning about the differences between happiness and joy. So in January, when I opened my bible to Philippians asking God to give me something I needed, He did! All this time, He was telling me to focus on my joy. I thought it was random. Random that I had my bible open to these pages. Mind blown.
He was telling me and he is still saying to me: Tarah-Lynn, RELAX! I got you! I made you and I love you. Trust that everything you face is all for your good. Take joy in knowing that I’m handling your business. But first, you need to give it to me. Everything. Be joyful. Rejoice. It’s a command.
Trust that I said so.
If you want to learn more, or if you are seeking encouragement, please please check out the links below!