"All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."
— Blaise Pascal
Joy is a delight that runs deeper than pain or pleasure. Joy is not happiness. Men regularly confuse joy and happiness. The unfortunate truth is that men will settle for happiness and never achieve God given joy.
Joy is not tied to external circumstances. Joy is a gift of God. Joy can be experienced even in the midst of the most trying of circumstances. Joy is not based on favorable circumstances or events.
The Old and the New Testament relate joy as a mark of a believer. Joy is not a fleeting feeling or emotion that comes and goes depending on a given situation. Joy is a gift from God and is grounded in God. Joy flows from God to His children.
“You make known to me the paths of life; in your presence there is fullness
of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalms 16:11, ESV)
“May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13, ESV)
The most common words for joy in the New Testament are chara (joy) and chairo (to rejoice). The joy represented is commonly connected with God’s gift of salvation. There is cause for great joy as a result of God’s redeeming grace.
The rub comes when you realize that Jesus made it clear that joy is connected to love and to obedience. Read the gospel of John, chapter fifteen, verses nine through fourteen very carefully. The apostle Paul made joy a vital part of the fruit produced in a believer’s life by the Holy Spirit. Again, take some time and read Galatians chapter five verse twenty two very carefully.
Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Joy stems from God through the salvation provided by Jesus Christ and happiness is just that; happen-stance based on favorable circumstances. Biblically speaking, you cannot experience joy when preoccupied with your own security, pleasure, or self-interest.
God alone is the only sufficient and/or adequate source for human existence. God alone enables us to live life with joy. Yet we often are more than willing to trade the joy of knowing and experiencing God for almost anything else.
Jesus asked this penetrating question, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his souls? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
The proper is that we simply settle to easily for happiness and rarely strive for joy. C. S. Lewis said it this way;
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Lewis says we are far too easily pleased. We settle when God offers to us infinite joy. God offers Himself – the greatest treasure that could ever be obtained.
What will you settle for? Are you easily pleased with the temporal bobbles of happiness and happenstance? Are you more particular and will forego sparkling bobbles and will you take the joy offered by God?