Faithful in the Midst

Faith in The Midst of Struggle

March 4, 2018
Tonya King

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Joy and Happiness

There is a lot of discussion today about the differences between joy and happiness. Many will tell you that happiness is just a feeling and can be fleeting. Joy is more of an inner condition. But the Bible does not agree with that definition. In the Bible there are many verses that discuss joy and happiness simultaneously.  Esther 8:16 says “For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor”. Many Christians in the 20th and 21st centuries have gotten the notion that happiness is inferior to joy and goes against Biblical teachings.  We can attribute some of this confusion to Oswald Chambers who wrote “Happiness is no standard for men and women because happiness depends on my being determinedly ignorant of God and His demands”.  Now I have a great deal of respect for Oswald Chambers but on this point, he missed the mark. Because of this teaching, many in the church regard happiness as somehow being sinful. But happiness speaks to being happy.  People who are filled with joy are happy people. They smile, they are cheerful, they laugh and enjoy themselves. Maybe the problem does not lie with the term “happiness” as it does with the term “joy”.  Do we have a working definition of the word “joy”  to draw upon.  Let’s look that up.  In Webster’s 1898 version of the dictionary, which is the edition that clearly defines words based upon a biblical worldview.  In this edition the definition of joy is as follows: a delight of the mind; gayety; happiness; a glorious and triumphant state; the cause of joy is happiness. And there it is… the cause of joy, the very reason it exists is because of happiness.  So how can the two be opposed.  Some people get hung up on the “joy is not a feeling” argument.  Well, the Bible does not support that point of view either.  In Galatians 5:22 it says that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, the same as peace, and love, and kindness.  If joy is not a feeling, then neither can peace and love and kindness be a feeling. But we know that we do indeed feel peace and love and kindness.  The argument is just not there.  Joy is a feeling. It is caused by happiness, it is Biblical, and the desire of God is for us to be happy!  Let us, in this generation, restore the word happiness back into our vernacular as a joyous part to our lives and let us not get hung up on semantics: Joy and happiness are both God breathed and God loves to see His children happy!

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