Joy and Happiness – What’s the Difference? Words have meanings.

Too often today, we use similar words interchangeably, leading to words becoming redefined by society. So too has joy been overused.

What’s the difference?

Joy is defined as a vivid emotion of pleasure.

Happiness is a state of well-being and contentment based on good fortune.

“Joy can be hard. It’s not the same thing as happiness,” – Stephen Colbert

Words have meanings

Too often today, we use similar words interchangeably, leading to words becoming redefined by society. The first fruit of the spirit, love, has been so overused. We even say we love inanimate objects like food or gadgets like our cell phones.

Joy is also overused. People generally mean they experience happiness when they say they’ve experienced it. Happiness is when something happens to make you feel good. The two words are not the same. These two terms are not interchangeable.

So what is joy?

It is more than simple pleasure, delight, or elation. It does not present as a person with a smile on their face, or someone shouting a positive cheer. When you see someone truly display it, there seems to be a supernatural source for it.

Joy comes from God, period. It does not exist without him. There is happiness, even extended happiness, but no joyfulness.

How is it different from happiness?

When I feel happy, it is generally because something good has happened or someone has done something for me. Happiness presents as merry, lively, cheerful, or contented.

Happiness usually comes from some external source, but usually not from God. Your source for happiness could be success at a job, affection from a loved one, or savoring a well cooked meal.

What does God want for me?

God wants you to experience joy. He wants you to read His words, His promises, and find more than simple contentment or well-being in Him.

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:10-11

The Chase

Read Ecclesiastes 3

What do you work for on earth? Do you work to amass riches, spending every waking hour chasing money? Do you collect things to make you happy? Is there something you just had to save if your house was on fire or flooding?

Solomon was reportedly the wisest man who ever lived. He spent his life amassing great wisdom, but he rewarded himself with anything he wanted. He chased every woman his eye took pleasure in, drank alcohol incessantly, he was a very foolish king.

The book of Ecclesiastes is his warning to man that everything he did brought him no satisfaction, and that none was to be had apart from God.

I implore you all, if you are chasing anything but God, turn back toward God. For chasing happiness in anything else is folly, chasing after the wind.

“What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil–this is God’s gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.” – Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

Free Will

Read Zechariah 2

Some of the founding fathers of America were deists in their religious beliefs. That is to say they believed God created everything, set it in motion, then stepped away and left it all alone.

There was a time when I believed this might have been true. So many things were going wrong in my life. I thought, “How could God let these things happen to me?”

I now know my own actions were to blame for many of my issues, and my inability to just stop pursuing happiness and to let God fill me with true happiness were keeping me from Him.

God is an active God. He will chase after you, but He still respects your free will. If you want to fill your life with all sorts of unhealthy habits in the pursuit of happiness, He will let you. He will still reach out softly letting you know He is the only true happiness there is.

If you want to find true unspeakable joy, all you need to do is be still. Stop pursuing happiness in things from this world, and read about The Lord your God. He is happiness and abundant life. Open His word and read His promises for your life. He is an active God and still works through the Holy Spirit here on Earth.

“Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” – Zechariah 2:13