I meet weekly on Sunday nights with a group of high schoolers and adults in what we call Growth Groups. This semester we have been studying and thinking through the Old Testament book of Job. Last night we had an amazing discussion about the difference between joy and happiness.
Frequently these two words are used as one and the same. While they do share some characteristics, they are actually different. Happiness is an emotion usually directly related to circumstances that are currently happening. So when the circumstances are good and going our way, we feel happy. On the other hand, when things break, get old, disappoint, when we do not get what we want, or when things do not go our way, we feel sad and are not happy.
One exercise we went through to help us get this concept was to write down specific things that make us happy. Here was my list in no particular order:
- Seeing things set to record on my TIVO. Not things recorded, but things scheduled to record.
- Watching Joba Chamberlain pitch.
- Pushing through a hard rep (known as a wall) while working out.
- Tickling Heather and hearing her laugh.
- Cuddling with our dogs.
- Listening to 90s music.
- Getting comments on my blog.
- Drinking a perfectly blended Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino.
- Having a secret $100 in my wallet (very rarely happens).
- Putting on jogging pants & a soft tshirt, then taking a nap on a cold, rainy day.
- Hearing The Office theme song.
If I had more time to think, I could have filled up pages of specific things that bring me happiness. You could too. Think about all the things in this world that makes you happy. It could be small things or big things. Anything from a good cheeseburger to when a baby wraps their tiny hang around your finger. All these are temporary and bring temporary emotional happiness.
Joy is something entirely different from happiness. Joy, in the Biblical context, is not an emotion. Joy is attitude of the heart. It is not necessarily based on something positive happening. Joy is something that lasts; happiness is something that is temporary. When happiness fades away, joy remains. Joy is something that is bigger than you and I and our current circumstances. Joy brings us peace in the middle of a storm. Joy is something that God deposits into us through the Holy Spirit. The enemy tries everything in his power to steal your joy because it is that important. On the other hand, the enemy will tempt you with things that will temporarily give you happiness but at the same time drift you away from God.
There is a big difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is an emotion and temporary; joy is an attitude of the heart. Hold on tight to your joy.
BIBLE VERSES THAT TALK ABOUT JOY YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:
Habakkuk 3:17-18, James 1:2, Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16, John 16:19-24, Galatians 5:22, Hebrews 12:2, and much more (joy is mentioned 242 times in the Bible).