Quick Study: Happiness & Joy

As I inch towards 30 years in vocational ministry, I ruminate on questions asked of me. One question that I get asked most often is, “Don’t I deserve to be happy?” The answer is simple. No, you don’t.

None of us deserves to be happy. Usually the people who have told us our whole lives that we deserve to be happy are the same ones that lied to us when they said we could be whatever we wanted to be when we grew up (more on that in the next blog entry). Then, when the person asking me about their supposed deserved happiness is still incredulous at my answer, I follow it up with a question of my own: “Why would you want to settle for happiness when Almighty God has made a way for you to have something way better?” I’m talking about joy.

Happiness is too fleeting. It’s too fickle. So many things have to come into alignment for me to be happy. I need to have a dash of this situation. I need to have a cup of that circumstance. The weather needs to be just right. My favorite jeans have to be clean. Then there’s all the stuff that makes me unhappy that I need to eliminate from the recipe. Can’t have that junk around! It’s just such a chore. And that’s why for so many happiness is elusive. Don’t get me wrong. I like being happy. I just don’t pursue it any more. Now, my greatest joy is, well, joy!

Joy is a decision that I make. Joy is always available. I can choose joy regardless of my circumstances. Why? Because my Father in heaven said that I can. He said that, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full (John 15:11)”. That’s good stuff right there.

This world is full of disappointment. There is nothing certain in this world….nothing. Not even death and taxes (don’t get me started on this one). But Christ-followers CAN be sure of something. That God has made a way for us to experience joy, that His intention is for His children to have His joy (wow), and that He intends for that joy to be FULL….lacking nothing.

For the record, joy-filled people tend to be happy most of the time. And if you have a personal relationship with The Joy-supplier, you’ll be happy most of the time, too. Soli Deo gloria (to the glory of God alone)!

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