Is JOY the same thing as being Happy? I used to think so. I thought it was just another temporary emotion. What is Joy? I think the closest thing I know of experiencing pure Joy was when each of our children were born. There was a lot of pain (first was a regular delivery and other two were C-sections, ouch!) but there was great joy and celebration of this beautiful new miracle.
That joy didn’t go away with the 3:00 am feedings either. In fact, I found those to be a time of peacefulness and just being able to sit in the moment with my child. It was mixed up with peace, contentment, a feeling that all was well with the world and joy.
As a Christian, I was told that being happy was an elusive state (happy that I found a great dress to wear, then unhappy when it’s not in my size). I wrote about being happy before in this post. I was told that JOY was a more permanent state. How could that be possible, when my emotions change from minute to minute? How can anyone possibly sustain any emotion for longer than a day? There are tons of verses in the Bible about Joy. This is the one that stood out to me as a new believer:
21 Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. John 16:21-22
This verse compares the only real experience I have had of lasting joy to the joy we find in Christ. But what is this joy we find in Christ? How does it just show up? You have to go to Galatians 5:22 to find that when you take your eyes off yourself and place them on God, that the Holy Spirit pours out His gifts on you. If you do things for others as if you were doing them for Christ, the blessings show up in the form of the fruits of the Spirit.
These gifts are not just given to one person, but to all believers. The only problem I have with this is that I am not always loving (especially when I haven’t eaten), patient (especially when I haven’t eaten), kind, good, or other things. So are these things fleeting also? The answer I think lies in realizing how limited we are by our human nature. We can only try to be good for a short time and then all things go crazy. The key again is being in the Spirit, praying for the Lord to help you, starting off your day with prayer and also looking for opportunities in which to serve others and love them as Christ loved them.
The most important prayer I have prayed (and I pray regularly) is for God to give me his eyes to see others the way he sees them. When I look at people through Jesus’s eyes, I see them differently. They haven’t changed – I have.
That is the way he looks at me – with love, with peace, with joy. When you have the love of God the Father and of His Son and His Spirit, you should have nothing but pure JOY that reflects and radiates out to others. If you are not feeling that, maybe it’s time to pray for Jesus’s eyes to see…?