When we think of the word Joy, we probably equate it with Happiness.
But what do we mean to be ‘happy’? For the most part, we think of happiness as an emotion that comes as a reaction to something good that happens. Happiness is essentially a byproduct of our circumstances. If things are good, we’re happy. If they’re not, we’re sad, angry, frustrated, confused, scared… something.
This is not the spiritual fruit of Joy.
While it’s true that Joy and Happiness can often look the same, they’re not identical.
Happiness is caught up in our circumstances, while Joy comes from a place below our day-to-day happenings. Joy is a deep-seated, foundational trust in God’s provision and promise. Joy believes, even in the midst of bad circumstances, that everything is going to be okay.
That’s different from what we think of as Happiness. Because Happiness is based on our circumstances, it’s essentially external. Happiness is something that happens to us. Sometimes. If things are good.
But Happiness goes away when things aren’t good. And that’s a problem, because the story our culture tells us is that things are never actually Good.
We’re taught to be wanting machines, that we owe it to ourselves to satisfy our desires. That if we can acquire enough, we’ll be happy. Our first official document – the Declaration of Independence – declares that a God-given right of ever human is the “Pursuit of Happiness”.
And somehow, here, happiness has a price tag. We tell ourselves there’s not enough to go around, that we have to get ours, have the most toys, buy buy buy. And if we do all this, then one day, we’ll have enough. We’ll be Happy.
Happiness is when you have enough (which never actually happens). Happiness is always just around the corner. We might paraphrase Little Orphan Annie: Happiness, like tomorrow, always seems to be just a day away.