Are You Happiness Driven? Or Joy Filled?

JoySunday’s post raised the question “Is the purpose of life to be happy?”

In it we spoke of the happiness craze in our country today. However, we pointed out that life is about purpose. Meaning. Significance. We received many good responses including one from reader, Leslie Maddox who commented, “Love this! Contentment/Joy is different from happiness, but I’m afraid that most people don’t make the distinction.”

Thank you Leslie! What a great observation.  So, what is the distinction and difference between joy and happiness?

Happiness is based on circumstances. And environment . If things around us are going well, and fortune smiles on us, we are happy.

Happiness is external. Physical. Material. Many people seem happy as long as their lives are filled with plenty of things.

Happiness often involves chance. The word happy comes from a middle English word “hap,” which means luck, chance or accident. While I believe in the providence of God, some things in life just happen! The wise man saw this when he wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:11

I returned and saw under the sun that —
The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.

Indeed! Observation tells us the writer is right! And the effects of “time and chance” can be either good or bad.

Happiness is temporary. Things change. The stock market fluctuates . Friendships can be severed. Love can be lost. Possessions can be burned up in a fire. Jobs can be terminated. Health fails. Beauty fades. So, if our happiness is founded circumstances, externals and mere chance, happiness will come and go.

Joy is different. In the Bible joy is closely connected the word “grace.” It is that which gives pleasure, delight and favorable regard. It may seem that joy and happiness are the same. In fact, we may use the words interchangeable. But they are different.

Joy is not based on circumstances, but substance. Joy has a core. A center. Essence. For Christians our joy is based on Christ. The New Testament book of Philippines speaks of joy or rejoicing 18 times. Paul’s outward circumstances were far less than favorable, he was in a Roman prison. Yet he was focused on Christ. He said “for me to live in Christ.” And that produced joy in his life.

Joy is not external, but internal. It comes from the heart. The soul. The inner person. Paul’s externals in the Roman prison were bleak and barren. But his soul was joy filled. How often have we heard of POW’S enduring incredible torture and suffering inhumane treatment, yet their spirit is not broken.

Joy is not based on chance, but choice. Joy is a decision. A determination of the will. Even the midst of pain and problems, when there is little to be happy about, we can focus upon “the joy of faith,” the joy the comes by God’s grace, mercy and love. The joy that is the result of “peace that surpasses understanding.”

Joy is not temporary, but timeless! Feelings of happiness will ebb and flow, but joy is constant. Unbounded! Unmoved! Eternal!

George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “This is true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
For Christians that purpose in found in Jesus. He came to give us an abundant life. Not always a happy one. But a meaningful life. A purpose-driven life. A joyful life. So, regardless of what happens we can echo the words of the apostle Peter:

“…Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Pet 4:13-14).

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Happiness, Joy

7 responses to “Are You Happiness Driven? Or Joy Filled?

  1. Ron Kochik

    Thank you Ken! I needed these thoughts on real lasting joy through our LORD Jesus Christ versus happiness that is based on the temporary things of this fleeting life. Easy to forget!!


  2. Our real purpose in life is to Glorify God. In whatever we do, say, think. To be obedient to HIS Will-even unto death, as Christ demonstrated and DID! I don’t think He was exactly happy about that…but when we are obedient to what God says we are to do, we get that ‘blessed assurance’, that PEACE that passes understanding. I was reading in Acts this morning and came across 2:25-28 where Peter is quoting King David in Ps 17:8-11. here is verse 11 “You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Knowing this life is temporary-the sufferings and the ‘happy times’- we learn that we can be content, whatever our ever-changing circumstances may be
    -and remembering our REAL home is yet to come, we CAN Glorify God despite our circumstances, because we KNOW He is with us. Eternally WITH-IN us! That is our great hope, knowing we will someday see Him, face-to-face, when that veil is lifted, our Joy will be complete!


  3. Nancy Cloud

    Thank you Ken, you spoke to me today….more than you could know.


  4. Pingback: How To Stress Less #1 | ThePreachersWord

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