Happiness vs Joy

Happiness vs Joy

Someone had a question concerning Happiness and Joy. I found some notes I had taken on the subject that may help see the distinction:

The Character of God

• God invites us to share in His joy. (See John 15:11.)
• God’s joy is strength to us. (See Nehemiah 8:10.)
• Jesus was sustained through the agony of the cross by looking to the joy ahead. (See Hebrews 12:2.)
• God rejoices over us with joy and singing. (See Zephaniah 3:17.)


What is true joy?

Often joy and happiness are thought of as synonyms. Although the two words are expressed in similar ways, there is a difference that is revealed by the test of time. Happiness depends on circumstances. If things are going well, we are happy. If things are not going well, then happiness disappears. Joy, on the other hand, is constant. It is the consistent peace and assurance from God that sustains us through any circumstance as we continue in fellowship with Him.

Happiness is short-lived while true joy is as lasting as our relationship with God.Where do we find true joy? Joy is found in God’s presence. (See Psalm 16:11.) We choose moment-by-moment whether or not we will enter and rest in His presence. The goal, however, is not to become joyful; the goal is to know God. As we walk in the Spirit, joy will result. (See Galatians 5:22.) God desires that we continually live rejoicing in Him. (See Philippians 4:4.)Can we find joy in other places? Trying to find joy in things or people or anything else is idolatry. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit within us and manifests itself as we abide in Him. If we are being grumpy and complaining, this absence of joy may be a signal that we are not walking in the Spirit. (See Jude 16.)

Are there times I should try to look joyful when I don’t feel that way?

There are times of deep sorrow and times when we may be feeling ill, have a head-ache, or are facing a disappointment. During those times, it is not hypocritical to appear cheerful if our motive sincerely is to be a blessing to others. This is putting them before ourselves. (See Philippians 2:2-4.) However, if we are trying to act joyful to hide our true feelings or to fool others into thinking we are something we are not, then that is hypocritical. In-stead of focusing on our own trials, we can turn our focus to how our words and actions might encourage others in their trials and how we might point them to Christ. This is genuine love. Our hardships do not need to stop us from being a channel of God’s love to others.

If I’m not joyful, can it be dangerous to hold in my feelings?

Trying to suppress our hurt and pretending to be joyful so others don’t think anything is wrong complicates the problem and can worsen it over time. This is a very lonely road to walk and definitely not what God desires for His children. When we can’t share everything with people, we can always be authentically real with God. He desires that we pour out our hearts to Him and honestly tell Him what we are going through and how we are feeling (hurt, angry, frustrated, etc.). We can give it to God and ask for His perspective. We can claim His Words of com-fort, healing, guidance, forgiveness, and strength. King David models this sincere, seeking heart for us in the Psalms. (See Psalm 4:1; 62:8.)