In one of the talks at Engage this year one of the speakers said this –
Happiness is a cheap toy. Joy is an unbelievably powerful force. God is ferocious for your joy, but happiness is fickle.
Happiness is a cheap toy. I can’t tell you how much I am seeing this to be true at the moment. The search for happiness in this world can so terribly lead to disappointment, loneliness and sadness.
But what exactly is the difference between happiness and joy. My dictionary say that joy is showing happiness but I think the bible speaks of a different kind of joy and so I would like to take some time to look at what the bible tells us about joy.
James 1 says this
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Joy in the face of trials seems to suggest that this joy is not dependent on happiness. So what is it? Lets start by looking at the reason we are to have joy – because the testing of our faith develops perseverance. Perseverance is mentioned as a characteristic of the Christian life by Jesus (Luke 8:15; 21:19) and Paul (Romans 5:3-4; 8:25; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 12:12).
The first person to have his faith tested was Abraham (Genesis 22) who was greatly rewarded by God for his faithfulness. We too shall be rewarded for our faithfulness. Testing of this leads to perseverance.
And while perseverance is good, its not the prize. It has its own effect, which is that you may be made mature and complete. The Greek word that is translated in NIV as ‘mature’ has a sense of meeting the highest standard and could also be translated as ‘perfect’. It is the same word that is used in Matthew 5:48 when Jesus says ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’. The effect of perseverance is a God-like character. That is the prize here.
We are to find joy in our trials because they make us more like God. This kind of joy requires us to have a perspective that looks beyond the here and now, and instead looks to an eternal reward. The eternal perspective is what drives us to faithfulness and perseverance.
Happiness is fickle because this world is fickle. Joy is powerful because true joy comes from an eternal perspective.