Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Beauty of JOY

For Christmas one year, I purchased a set of votive cups that were red and they each had a letter on them.  Put together, the letters spelled out the word JOY.  After Christmas, I decided to leave them up on the shelf in my bathroom where I displayed them throughout the Christmas season.  Not only did they match the other decor in my bathroom, but those cups were a constant reminder to be joyful in my daily life, no matter what.
 
So many people get Joy and Happiness mixed up. But they are not the same.

There is a reason why joy is different than happiness.  Happiness, because it is fleeting and often subject to the whims and catastrophe's of our fallen world, our imperfect flesh and human emotion, falls short of fulfilling our soul's innermost desire to REJOICE.  JOY is everlasting and dwells in that innermost spot of our soul, where regardless of what goes on around us, it affords us the strength to express a more profound reaction to life than just happiness.

Many times, I've had people say to me that they had no clue that I was facing something difficult or something was upsetting me, because I didn't act like it.  Many people look at the outward actions of a person and think, 'well, she's engaging in regular conversation, she's laughing, she's participating in life.... she must be happy, everything must be good.'  But this is not always the case.

FOR ME, as someone who is immersed a lot in fog and darkness and is very sensitive to life's painful happenings, it is often difficult for me to push aside the fact that I am not happy so as to allow my joy to shine through.  But I try. As often as I can, I try.  I choose to allow the joy that Christ has blessed me with through His love, to be a band-aid for my depression and anxiety and stress, to help me shine outwardly so that not only is my suffering not forefront, but so that others may know what true joy looks like.

The beauty of joy is that no matter how sad we may feel at times, no matter what is going on in our daily life, we can choose to allow the everlasting joy that is deep in our souls to shine forth, even when we don't feel happy, even when it hurts.  Joy is healing.  It's protective.  It reminds us that this life - and all the things we face, including the absence of "happiness"- are all fleeting. 

God tells us in James 1 that we should be joyful particularly when we face trials of any kind: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials."  (NAB)  In Galatians, He tells us that joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  Not happiness.  But JOY.

What about you, is it difficult for you to be joyful despite a lack of happiness, amidst trials you are suffering through?  Do you know the difference between joy and happiness?

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