Give up seeking happiness and find joy.
Disneyland advertises itself as the “happiest place on earth” which may be the truth. Block for block, there is probably no place with so many delights for the eyes as D’ land. Laughs, gasps, oohs and aaahs, along with the Kodak moments make for great memories.
But, when you return home to the tough job, the rude co-worker or the difficult school class, the trip to Anaheim shrinks in its ability to make one happy. It was fun while it lasted. Sheryl Crow famously wrote in a song, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?” Crow apparently discerned that being happy isn’t always what is best for us.
Joy, on the other hand is based on other things – things that don’t go away. Paul, in his mention of the Fruit of the Spirit versus the Works of Flesh, seems to point to the difference between pursuing surface pleasure and happiness versus deep-down-to-the-bone joy that comes from following the Spirit’s lead.
What markers in your life can you point to that show your success in finding joy?
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:4-7.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4.
Question: What is the difference between happiness and joy? (Do a Google search if you don’t know.)
Activity: Write down the top two or three things you could do to cultivate joy. Choose one of them to begin working on.
Prayer: Great God of Joy, we give thanks for the many ways we find joy in our short lives. In the smile of a child, the embrace of a loved one, in the gift made to a person in need. The world teaches us to seek happiness which goes away in an instant. Please help us to remember the difference and make it our conscious effort to desire joy. In Jesus’ name Amen.