Joy vs. Happiness

Posted by [email protected] on October 24, 2011 at 6:30 PM

I've heard it said, "Happiness has to do with what's HAPPENING!"  

i.e. -- I'm eating chocolate, the house is clean, all the windows are open and a breeze is wafting through the rooms and mingling with my very favorite music, and in this moment nobody has a bottom in need of wiping, therefore, I am happy.  But what to do when the house is torn apart, nap-time didn't go so well, little Johnny threw up on the carpet, and not a morsel of chocolate can be found in the pantry?  No wonder we are prone to despair... Happiness is so fleeting.

Just the other day Matt and I were talking to friends and describing a beautiful moment of family togetherness.  Matt chuckled and then confessed, "And then we loaded the boys into the car and the moment was over.  The kids were hungry, complaining, hitting, crying, and altogether miserable."  Yes, our picture-perfect, idyllic family moments come and go (oftentimes too quickly), and we long for something to sustain us — something more permanent.

That's why we need JOY.  

Joy is not dependent upon our circumstances, the health of those we love, or how physically well-rested we are; JOY comes from abiding in Him, ever thankful that He abides in us.

In Your Presence is Fullness of Joy...  (Psalm 16:11)

So how do we make a practice of abiding in His Presence?  I believe it begins with making the choice and then being self-disciplined.  It takes forethought, practice, and sacrifice, until it becomes habitual.  

For me, abiding in Him throughout the day includes time in His Word, that I might dwell on what's important to Him.  On the busiest of days, when I drop this blessed practice, and life spins into weary chaos, I am reminded again how crucial my time reading the Bible is.

Second to that is something very similar to the Army of Spy games our boys devise... as they play, running and hiding behind trees, looking out at either real or perceived enemies, they speak constantly into their imagined walkie-talkies "Roger that, commander" they whisper in all sincerity.  "I'm going in..."

In 1 Thessalonians 5, we are given a list of things the Christian should do, and sandwiched between rejoicing always and giving thanks in everything, is this simply command: pray without ceasing... for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Are we in constant communication with our commanding officer as we serve and play with little ones?  Do we purposefully stay in touch with Him as we balance the checkbook, do the dishes, fold laundry, and then do the dishes again?  When our happenings are good and when they are strenuous and challenging, are we praying without ceasing to the One who cares and extends peace and Joy in the midst of it all?  

When we trust in His care and concern, delighting in His forgiveness and extending it to others, intentionally turning our eyes off of our challenges and onto Him, we are in His Presence... where Joy is found.

Yesterday I wrote about displacing our negative emotions and focus to mount The Joyful Experience of Gladness.  This is along those same lines.  When we are living for Happiness we are continually grasping for one thing or activity after another to make us happy... let us let go of what we are grabbing at for momentary happiness and instead take the Father's hands, extended to us.  And let's dance.  

Sally Clarkson uses this analogy in her latest book, Dancing With My Father.  If you are struggling with your desire to take hold of Joy, but it seems too elusive or far off, this book will bring it near enough to reach out and touch.  

Let us run this race, with perseverance, Ladies.  Do not give up.  Our God is not far off, He is not playing tricks and trying to make it confusing for us.  He just wants us to draw near to Him, where lasting Joy is found.

Categories: JOY in the midst...

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