I remember hearing years ago, a simple description of how to distinguish Happiness from Joy. It was said that happiness is dependent upon external happenings or circumstances, while having joy is not dependent upon circumstances. That is, if things are going well, I will most likely be happy. If my life circumstances are bad, happiness eludes me.

Joy, on the other hand, is said to be more of an internal disposition that cannot be touched or affected by circumstances. I realize this is a simple distinction, and perhaps even joy needs some sort of “antecedant” (circumstance/happening) to have it be internally in our hearts. I’m really not interested in this blog to give a “definition” of joy. I just want to encourage you by prompting questions such as the following . . .

            “Do I have joy?” Why or why not?

            What is my joy based upon?

            How do the “happenings” of my life make me more cognizant of my joy or lack of joy?

The longer I walk this path of life, with Jesus as my Path and Life (John 14:6), I am convinced of at least two things related to joy. Perhaps these two things are the chief “take-aways” from today’s blog. First, joy is never complete and is often elusive. It is meant to be.  I don’t believe any of life’s pleasures, including joy, are meant to fully satisfy us. Joy always points forward, reminding us in a teasing way, that the best is not now, but yet to come. Yes, the pleasures are real and substantial, but don’t expect joy to build a house here, only a tent. This relates to my second takeaway related to joy. While it is never complete and often elusive, it is incredibly powerful and often sustains us in what can at times be a weary walk. Joy is internal, a reflection of the Holy Spirit Who lives within us. Joy gives us strength when we walk in the “rain” (see a previous blog!) because we know we have Someone walking with us, and Who is leading us Home.  Joy is not a result of us trying to have a “positive” outlook. Its quality does not rise and fall in connection with our determination or lack of it. Joy flows from the Presence of God, from the Person of the Holy Spirit Who is in us and is not going anywhere (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is our Resident Counselor, guiding us through our beautiful and challenging lives.

Finally, I’m sure you’ve heard the acronym for joy as being “Jesus, Others, You”. That is, if you put Jesus first, others second, and then your own self-interests third, this is a “recipe” of sorts for joy. Not bad advice really. Because, if joy is generated by the Spirit of God, if it is a fruit the Spirit grows in us, then we must keep in step with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:25) to walk in joy.  I hope the prose above encourages you. For a more poetic approach, I close with a poem I will call “Joy’s Invite”. Blessings!

Joy’s Invite

Do I have You?

Oh, let’s define You.

Refine You till

The meaning is meaningless

Then I’ll know You.

No, I don’t need

Parameters and boxes to enjoy You

Better to taste you.

Not from a recipe of

Asking for so much of this

And of that a dash

But a splash pad

Jumping, laughing, playing

in You with You

As a child at a water park

Full of abandon and delight

To know You like this

You invite me

To eat the Bread of Life.

Tasting Him

Drinking in the Wine

Life erupting where death once stood

Because No-Joy once tried

to destroy You.

Yet You rose from the dead

With my Exalted Head

Showing me

Making known to me the Path of Life

Filling me with joy in Your presence

Unending pleasures besides You.