“Therefore, my beloved and longed for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.” (Philippians 4:1)
Joy! Happiness! What’s the difference? Can you have one without the other? Are you living a joyful life, exhibiting this fruit as one among several of those “fruits of the Spirit” found in Galatians 5:22-23?
The Bible makes it clear that those who choose to live in obedience to God’s will with the entirety of their “heart, soul, strength, and mind” … will find great delight in the Lord. David would say it this way, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them.” (Psalm 139:17)
Hopefully, prayerfully, this describes each one of us and helps us to keep our balance when life all around us becomes turbulent and downright scary … so all-consuming that every expression of joy can be eclipsed!
Most people want to be happy, and the pursuit of happiness is a life-long effort, expected in the things of this world. But what happens when the things of this life break, rust, corrode and fall apart?
What happens when a loved one dies … or our health deteriorates … when the money is gone. Happiness is elusive … just when you think you’ve got it in your hand … it’s gone!
In contrast to happiness stands “joy.” This “joy” runs deeper and stronger … it is a quiet, confident assurance of God’s love and work in our lives. Quite simply it is rooted in “walking in the light.” It comes from above and assures us that God really does care about us. (1 Peter 5:7) The difference between happiness and joy … happiness depends on happenings, events, and circumstances. Joy on the other hand depends on Jesus Christ.
Joy is one of several themes whose buoyancy can be found throughout God’s Book, but most especially in Paul’s inspired letter to the church meeting in the City of Philippi.
I have been blessed to live a happy and fulfilling life in so many ways. Were there hardships that had the ability to rob me of the “joy found in Christ Jesus?” Yes, many in fact … and I must admit there have been times when my sense of joy was overshadowed by life’s unpleasantries!
But every time the setbacks, grief, worry, and fear made their presence known, I would be reminded when I picked up God’s Book or listened to it being read … where my lost sense of joy was based. I would ask my God to forgive me and strengthen me! And He has done so many times.
Can you identify with this challenge? Our God, my friends, is so rich in grace and mercy. He never tires of hearing our prayers, our asking for divine help. Never!
There is pressure on each of us that can come from any direction. There really are what could be called ‘joy stealers’… and if they haven’t made their way into your house … they are waiting right outside the door … patiently ready to pounce on heart, mind, and life.
They have one objective and that is to take away our grip on “God’s grace” … our claim on “the peace that passes all understanding” … and our confidence and trust in the One True God! (2 Timothy 1:12)
Hudson Taylor once said, “It doesn’t matter, really, how great the pressure is; it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord … then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.”
The inspired advice from our Creator … CHOOSE JOY! Remember that not anything or anyone can rob you of these blessings without your permission! (Romans 8:31-39)
Choose wisely, carefully, and confidently to acquire and maintain the right attitude.
The Winds of Fate
“One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life:
Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.”
— Ella Wheeler Wilcox