The next fruit in our Galatians 5:22-23 passage is JOY! I love this topic! I think there is so much joy in studying joy (ahaha! see what I did there?!). Anyways, we are going to spend this time of stillness looking at what joy really is. Is joy different from happiness? If so, in what ways? What does God’s Word say about joy? Can everyone have joy? These are all great questions and I’m praying that God’s Word brings to light the answers we are looking for (:
In Philippians 4:4, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” This is a pretty big command. The Lord commands us to be joyful always, but that seems nearly impossible! Everyday we experience hardships, whether that be a difficult relationship/friendship, or an overwhelming amount of work, or even failing to accomplish something. Life’s challenges make it seem so hard to be joyful always. We can be easily discouraged by this thought, but be ever so careful, sweet people, because joy and happiness are words that are commonly confused with one another. The difference between the two can actually be really encouraging!
Here’s a simple trick to help distinguish them: happiness comes externally, while joy comes internally. What I mean by that is happiness is always changing based on how our life is going externally. So, if you get in an argument with a close friend or family member, you are obviously not going to walk away happy, but if you win the lottery, you will probably be the happiest person alive!! Your state of happiness changes ALL. THE. TIME.
Joy, on the other hand, comes from the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” The Lord provides us with joy through the Holy Spirit, who works in us internally. If you are a believer, you have the joy of the Lord! When God’s Word says to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4) and that seems impossible, it’s because that is not our own doing! We have to rely on the Lord for the joy that He provides. We then need to live a life that expresses the joy that He has given us! Everyday the Lord shows us little things to remind us of His joy. When we look at a sunset, we are able to say, “Wow! That is sooooo beautiful!” because God created it, and God’s creation brings joy to His people. Or maybe it’s worship, because when we sing or dance or play instruments in His name, we are reminded of God’s character (His grace, His love, His kindness, etc.) and that brings us joy!! God’s joy is given to us, we just need to be reminded of how awesome He is to fully experience that joy!
It is possible to have both joy AND happiness. In fact, every believer can experience both joy and happiness everyday! All believers have access to the joy of the Lord all the time. God’s joy doesn’t ever change because joy is based on who God is and what He has done, which never changes. The joy you have as a believer will never leave (let that be an encouragement to you!! You don’t have to live a life of sadness because you serve an AMAZING, UNCHANGING God! Sorry I’m getting distracted!). As a believer, you also experience happiness when life is going great externally. When we do well on tests or receive nice compliments or are given fun gifts, we experience happiness, and that’s not a bad thing! We need to be careful though, because as we learned earlier, our state of happiness is always changing.
So, it is possible to be joyful always (by God’s power) AND be happy! The reverse is also true. It is possible to be joyful always and be unhappy. It could be something as simple as stubbing your toe or something as major as losing a job. Neither one of these things makes a person happy, nor would I expect you to be happy! But, because we serve an unchanging God, His joy is never ending! Even in some of life’s darkest moments, you can still find joy in knowing who God is and remembering the great things He has done!
I encourage you, beautiful people, to find joy today! Knowing that you have joy as a believer, I pray that you are reminded of the joy that the Lord provides even when life isn’t looking too great.
I love you guys oh so much, but I pray above all else that you know how loved you are by our unchanging, joy-providing God (: