Most people confuse happiness with joy. They’re not the same. Happiness usually depends on circumstances, but joy is something deep and heartfelt. Joy is steady, unaffected by changing circumstances. Happiness is fickle. It easily bends and breaks, comes and goes.
Some typical things we associate with happiness might be: -getting a new car -receiving a raise -buying a new electronic device -having a good credit score -eating a wonderful dinner These are good things, to be sure, but they’re not enduring sources of joy.
Some things that might bring joy are: -the first glimpse of a newborn child or grandchild -that time your eleven-year-old son took your hand and said, “I love you, mom. Happy Mother’s day.” -the time you watched your parents, married 50 years, holding hands, walking along the beach. -seeing your daughter baptized -experiencing God’s love and guidance in your life -that moment you first realized all your parents sacrificed for you -lying on a blanket on a crystal-clear night, gazing at the stars and reflecting on the grandeur of God -finding someone to share your life with
Joy vs. happiness? Not the same. Big difference. The Apostle John explains this in his first epistle. He’s promoting joy. “I’m writing these things so that your joy may be full,” he says. The Greek word means “abundant, overflowing.” (1 John 1:4).
What causes that kind of joy? John’s answer is simple, yet powerful: Jesus. “The one we have seen and heard,” he says. “He is life itself.” Indeed. When he becomes more than a religious celebrity to us, we learn what that means.