Well to tie up this little series of thoughts, I’ll share what I’ve been thinking a lot about these past few days due to my work; the word ‘joy’.
When I think about this topic, I inevitably find myself wondering what the difference is between ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’?
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that my starting point for thinking about this is rooted in my faith. Depending on which version you use, the word ‘happy’ or ‘happiness’ occurs around 30 times in the Bible while the words ‘joy’ or ‘rejoice’ appear around 300 times. Right from the it seems clear that ‘joy’ is 10 times more emphasized, more valued, in scripture than ‘happiness’. What’s that all about?
I found a definition online from Kay Warren (a very unlikely source for me I must admit) of ‘joy’ that I’ve since fallen in love with:
” Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation. ”
I’ve come to highly value this way to describe what joy is. Even though I’m far from happy all the time, I feel quite sure that ultimately God IS in control and that everything IS going to be all right someday. That does in fact bring me joy. In the face of my frustration and confusion about the condition of the world including the status of my health, I’ve realized along the way that there’s never once been a time when I doubted God’s existence and faithfulness. In fact, it’s the only thing that helps me make any sense of it all.
There’s obviously nothing wrong with happiness, but it is fleeting. That’s why the Bible seemingly values joy much more than happiness. Joy defined this way gives me the strength and perseverance to keep on going in the midst of the pain and suffering.
So I will continue to try my best to faithfully choose joy.