But...oh how I love that but. But my joy is not dictated by my 'happiness'.
I think as people we have mistaken the Declaration of Independence's statement of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' for gospel. We seem to think that we have the right to everything that will make us happy and satisfied. Sorry to burst your giddy little bubble, but nowhere in the bible does it say that.
I looked up the word happy in the Hebrew and in the Greek, it appears about 25 times and that word happy has to do with our relationship to Jesus and our obedience to Him. A few examples; Psalm 144:15b, "yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord", Proverbs 3:13, "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding", and 1 Peter 3:14, "But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled". I found no scriptures that said happy is the man who has steak every night for dinner. Or happy is she who has 20 pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes. Or happy are they who vacation three weeks every year. We mistake temporary enjoyment for biblical blessedness. There is nothing wrong with any of those things, but when those are a requirement for our living contented lives then there may be an issue. Our contentment should come from the Lord. Our joy should be predicted by our relationship with Him.
Joy is totally different than happiness. Happiness is fleeting. Just ask any child who gets that wished for gift on Christmas that breaks before the New Year. Many verses in the bible talk about everlasting joy. Everlasting, sounds just like what it is, without end. And other verses speak of our joy being full. Not half a cup of joy, not a tad below 3/4's, but full! Sounds to me pretty definitive. No wiggle room on that one. Totally full and always everlasting. I will take that over momentary pleasure any day.
But how do we learn to walk in that joy? Especially on those days where there is struggle, pain and grief? First of all I think it comes in trusting the Lord and knowing that bad times happen, but they also pass. It comes in knowing that the Lord loves us and His plans are for our good. And it comes in the depth of intimacy of our relationship with Jesus. The closer we are to Him, the greater joy we have. I just love that hymn, Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Well over 150 times the word joy appears in scripture. 1 Peter 1:8, "yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory". Psalm 30:5b, "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning". And a great promise to us as His children is that His Spirit dwells in us and the fruit of that Spirit includes joy.
We so often associate being happy with receiving something. Getting a gift, earning a raise, spending time with loved ones. All wonderful things, but often that feeling passes. The event passes and then so does the feeling. But joy is ineffable, indescribable. It surpasses what we can often express with our limited vocabulary. How do you describe that moment when a child is born? What words can be used adequately to tell of a storm blowing through and then the sun shining through the clouds? What phrase can speak of the love you have for your spouse? And how can you possibly sum up the gratitude you have for the love of a Saviour who brought you from death into glorious life, from darkness into radiant light? Even writing this, my words fail to express what is in my heart for Him. What bliss, what rapture, what joy. Nothing and no one can take that away from me.
Next time you are having a day where happiness seems outside of your grasp, remember that happiness in not what gets you through the day. And I speak to myself here...we all struggle. But if I keep in mind that joy is the thing that keeps me going, that "the joy of the Lord is my strength" then I can not only get through the day, I can be victorious over those feelings. I can triumph over despair, over grief, over anger and frustration, through Him. He is my joy. He is my peace. He is my everything.
I loved the Sister Act movies. And especially the singing in them. My favorite was the song Oh Happy Day. What a reminder of what should make us truly happy...the fact that Jesus washed away our sins...that is cause for rejoicing. That alone is enough to give me joy.
Here is a link to that clip from Sister Act. https://youtu.be/6zT8AyfsFmA
As I just listened to it, it's funny, the singer is doubtful and apprehensive about singing it. But as he sings, and hears what he is singing he gains assurance. That is how we are...think on that happy day and be assured that joy is yours!