This blog is taken from a previous post made on March 21, 2016 -The Practice of Being Joyful: On Being Happy – www.transfromingdailymoments.org.
“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.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
You’re sitting at home staring out the window looking for something, feeling the need for something else in your life. Though you are surrounded by all the comforts and toys money, or at least your money, can buy – it’s not enough. You’ve had this feeling for a while and can’t shake it.
You’re not happy! You certainly are not abounding in joy!
It’s amazing how much we have studied the art of being happy. What’s even more amazing is the various ways one can achieve happiness. One Google search revealed the following:
40 Ways to be Happy
7 Steps to Happiness
10 Ways to be Happy
15 Habits of Happy People
8 Life Changing Habits to be Happy
10 Ways to be Happier
25 Science-backed Ways to be Happy
And this was only the first page!
Is being happy that complicated?
People have studied the topic. They’ve created courses on the subject and offered seminars on the being happy. There’s money to be made on being happy. There is so much out there on the subject that one could become stressed and anxious simply trying to achieve the state of happiness.
I propose a much simpler approach to the subject: Choose Happiness. You see, during the day our emotions ebb and flow dependent upon the circumstance. You may not be able to control the circumstances, but you can control how you respond. For example – you lose your job: A bad situation for anyone. You can mope around creating a story for every bad thing that will result from the situation. Or you can count it all joy and be happy in the knowledge that it will all work towards God’s divine plan for your life.
Scripture teaches that happiness is a gift from God. It is contingent upon us doing something – a sort of if/then. If I love God, I will be happy. If I follow God’s Law, I will be happy. He commands us to be happy and do well for as long as we live! But happiness is fleeting.
So What About Being Joyful?
Joy, on the other hand, is true contentment that comes from internal factors like our faith in the Lord. True joy is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances. The book of Philippians is a great study in the difference between joy and happiness. Written by the Apostle Paul while imprisoned in Rome, this book uses the words “joy,” “rejoice,” and “joyful” 16 times and teaches true contentment in Jesus Christ, despite our circumstances. In the worst of circumstances, Paul talks about his faith and trust in Christ and how it had changed his whole perspective on suffering. In Philippians 1:12-24, Paul says that because of his two-year imprisonment, the whole Roman guard heard the gospel from him, and it had even spread throughout all of Rome. Though this was not a happy time for Paul, it certainly was a time filled with much joy!
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.” Philippians 4:18
Paul goes on to encourage others to have peace knowing that God strengthens us (Philippians 4:13) and “supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Make The Decision to be Happy and Filled with Joy
By 2016, I thought that the worse was over with my life challenges and that I could begin to make some return to normalcy of sorts. I had weathered the storm of cancer, fought back from neuro-surgery and survived a loss of job. Though I was not back to my starting place, I was on the way.
Then comes the summer of 2016 – the Rathke Cyst was back and so was the need for another surgery. By this time it was clear that I could no longer remain isolated in Santa Rosa and needed to be closer to family and caregivers. I had to sale my beautiful condo and move. Where was the joy in that? How could I be happy with a surgery and move looming over my shoulder?
The Bible teaches that while happiness is fleeting because it often depends on things outside of ourselves, true joy is eternal because it is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, which is itself an everlasting source of joy.
Because of my desire to be obedient to God’s word, I chose to be happy. In the midst of struggle, I chose happiness because I know that Jesus saves.
Because of my unbinding faith in Jesus Christ, I am always joyful. Because of my relationship with Jesus I have peace and strength for the journey.
Be happy and filled with joy!