Joy & Happiness
There are many things in life that make us happy, an accomplishment, attaining a particular lifestyle, a new job or perhaps a new home, the birth of a child, a new dress, or a new car etc. We have all been happy at various times in our lives, celebrating Christmas and welcoming the New Year has a sense of happiness attached to it.
I realise that happiness is something everyone strives for; we want to be happy in every areas of our lives to the point that we often celebrate that state of happiness now and again! Like everyone else, I’d have many reasons to be happy over the last five decades, whether it is an educational achievement, returning to settle in the UK in the early eighties, to getting married and the happiness of holding my sons and watching them grow up. Nowadays, even the opportunity of having a whole day to myself can bring on that feeling of happiness, as I delight in the stillness of the moment. As well as the adrenaline rush of driving on a clear motorway! I realised that when life is good and, things are working the way we envisage them to be, we tend to be happy.
However, following my initial encounter with the Lord in April 2009, I discovered Joy, I immediately found that Joy was constant and was not dependent on an event or a favourable circumstance. So much so that it puzzled me at first, as my discovery of Joy came during a turbulent period in my life. I began to question this Joy that emitted from my spirit man when I was least happy; it simply didn’t make any natural sense. In truth my fellow Christians at Church first noticed the break out of Joy prior to discovering my encounter with the Lord! Nonetheless, the intense joy in my spirit man stood in contrast to circumstances around me and eventually I found myself consciously surrendering to the Joy that emitted from my spirit and would often respond with a gentle smile or song. I had to learn to allow the Joy that was emanating from my spirit to warm and infiltrate my heart and eventually my whole being.
I then realised that the Joy in my spirit heightened my moment of happiness, as the happiness in the heart collides with the Joy from my spirit. I began to realise that true Joy is deeper than happiness and transcend situation of circumstances. I also found that I couldn’t hide the Joy in my Spirit at the time as my soul rejoiced in the Lord constantly. As the Bible says:
“You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with Joy in your presence, with eternal pleasure at your right hand.” - Psalm 16:11
So I learnt that Joy flowed freely from within me, while happiness is trigger by pleasant things or situations around me: Out of the Lord outpouring came my Joy and out of my accomplishment flowed happiness! I came to realise that both have one thing in common, in moments of happiness and joy, you feel strengthened to do more, to accomplish more, to finish that job, that project, to care more etc. No wonder the Bible says ‘The Joy of the Lord is our strength”!
My sudden discovery of Joy meant I wanted to know more and found that as Jesus addressed his disciples about the love of God for them, He prayed for them that the Father’s Joy may be in them and that their Joy may be complete. He again encouraged them as He prayed to the Father in John 17:13
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”
I realised that while we strive for happiness with all that we have; the Lord aims to give us Joy freely. He desires all his people to have the fullness of His Joy. I also learnt that when the Bible says that “In His presence is the fullness of Joy and at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore’ it is a perfect reflection of His presence because it is impossible to have his Presence without the fullness of Joy. Therefore, Jesus desires that you and me have the full measure of His Joy within us!
Having just gone through the Christmas period, with many of us enjoying the various Christmas carols including “Joy to the World! The Lord has come”, I pray that you don’t lose the reality and meaning of those words in your daily living as you go through 2017. The challenge is that we often move on from the Christmas period and forget the truth of those words. Its been some years since my initial encounter with the Lord, and like many who forget the Joy of Christmas during the year; I've found myself often prompted by the Lord of the Joy that flows so freely from within me. So my prayer is that in 2017, we would be aware and embrace that inner Joy as well as anchor every moment of happiness that 2017 bring in that Joy!