There are lots of positive pick-up lines we hear in this day and age, ones I have used myself, such as, “Keep Smiling!”, “Keep Your Chin Up!”, “Laughter Is The Best Medicine!”, “Choose Happiness!”, “Enjoy The Little Things!”and so many others. Each of these are good in their proper places.
There are some truth to these clichés, yet we are living in a time where depression and suicide are on a rampage! Don’t you thing that is rather ironic?
So, why doesn’t this “Stay Happy” stuff seem to work very well for most people?
This thought all started with an Adventure in Odyssey episode recently aired, called, “Happy Smilers”.
In this episode, a father makes this statement to his daughter, “I’d rather have Joy- it lasts longer.”
I thought that was good.
Then there were some discussions I had with others about the topic of how high the depression and suicide rates have escalated.
Then the church services yesterday touched a lot of the subject of happiness. And so, that is how this post was born.
Let me introduce you to this wonderful something called JOY.
You might say, “Happiness and Joy are the same thing.”
I don’t think they are. They fall into the same category of good things, but I think there is a difference. Would you mind me taking the time to explain what I mean?
It seems to me, that happiness is basically an emotion of feeling good, whether that be having fun, knowing you have done a job well, or relaxing and enjoying the scenery. Those things make me happy; but they do not bring me joy.
The Bible says, in James 1:2-3, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
Count your temptations and faith-tryings as joy?
That does not seem logical, according to our ways of thinking.
I am no Bible scholar, but the way I understand joy, in my own words, is more than a “feel-good” play on emotions. I believe it comes from the heart, and is something you can hold on to, even when you’re facing the toughest times in your life. It doesn’t mean you’ll have a permanent smile etched on your face.
I believe the best example is that of Jesus Christ.
Will you do me a favor, and imagine, that you, perfectly innocent of any wrongdoing, are now sentenced to the most humiliating death- the death of the cross. But before you even get there, people you love, even some you thought were your friends, are yelling hateful things at you, there are gobs of spit dribbling down your face, you’ve been slapped in the face many times, your clothing has been stripped off of you, your back is bloody and beaten, and you have a miniature thorn-bush shoved on your scalp. Not only are you in this condition, but they force you to carry a heavy cross, not smooth and sanded down, but a rough splintery one. The very cross they are going to attach you to with big iron nails driven through your hands and feet. To top it all off, they offer you a drink of vinegar.
Yet you endure this, because it is going to save the lives of others. Ones who you love desperately.
That sounds terribly horrific. Morbid, actually. But it really happened to Someone. That Someone is Jesus Christ.
And He did it for you, my friends.
He already took your sin, your guilt, your sickness, your depression, your everything with Him to be buried in the grave. In fact, it’s not even yours! So why hold onto it?
I know it is easier said than done. Trust me, I have experienced those difficulties before. We, as humans, stuck in this corrupted flesh, are not immunized from making mistakes and dealing with hardships. But we can’t let those things take control of us. We have to repent, and give them to Jesus.
He gave up His own breath so you could breathe in freedom. Not the freedom of “God Bless America”, but the freedom of no longer being beat down by sin, fear, guilt, depression, hatred, murder, adultery, laziness, impatience, unbelief, and the list goes on.
He surrendered His own life because He wanted you to live in Eternity. Not on this earth, but with Him as His Bride in Heaven!
Now, do you think Jesus was Happy to go through all of the pain and humiliation? Do you think He was grinning from ear to ear? I think not. In fact, in the book of Matthew, chapter 26, when He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, it says that He was “…sorrowful and very heavy.” His soul was “…exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”
In Matthew 27:46, The Bible tells us that Jesus, while on the cross, cried out with a “loud voice”, saying, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He was in such agony!
But I think it gave Jesus great joy to know that He had not turned to the will of the fleshly desires, but obeyed the will of God, and completed the mission for which He was sent to earth. I believe there was joy in His heart when He saw the thief on the cross repent, and rejoicing that they would meet in Paradise. I am sure it pleased God when the Roman centurion recognized Him as the Son of God. Most of all, despite the anguish and torture He went through, Jesus thought it was worth all of that so He could have the joy of knowing you personally; thrilled that you would accept the exchange of His Life, for yours; elated that we could live with Him for Eternity.
It seemed that death had beaten Christ. But, as a matter of fact, neither death, hell, nor the grave could conquer Him! He rose again, the Mighty Victor! Jesus defeated even death! That is why we can have, not just happiness, but joy.
Real, true joy.
Joy unspeakable, and FULL of glory!
Do you see what I mean when I say that we cannot just rely upon happiness? Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is important to be happy and positive. But you can’t fool yourself and others with a forced happiness, which isn’t at all cheerful.
And you cannot make yourself happy.
I must warn you though, that being joyless makes you weak, and sucks the life out of you.
In Proverbs 15:13, Scripture says, “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”
Also, in Proverbs 17:22, it is written, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth up the bones.”
The Good News is, there is a Remedy for Broken Spirit Syndrome. And that is come to Jesus, and tell Him all about your struggles, because He said Himself in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
Another Scripture to remember, is 1 Peter 5:7- “Casting all your cares upon Him; for He careth for you.”
And just so you don’t get the wrong idea, it is possible to leave your joy behind; but it is so wonderful to know that you can get it back! It just takes a simple prayer of faith!
Another thing to point out, is that we do not gain Joy by anything we do- it is purely given to us by God!
I gather this from the verses in Psalms 51:10-12 that say, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy Presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the JOY of Thy Salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.”
I think it would be a grand idea to ask the Lord daily for a restoration of Joy.
What are your thoughts on Joy versus Happiness? Do you think there is a difference, or are they interchangeable?
Would you like to share a testimony on this topic?
I’d love to read what you think!
God Bless you , and I pray that you really have something to be Joyful about!