We all want to be happy. In fact, if you ask the average person on the street, wanting to be happy and wanted our loved ones to be happy generally ranks pretty high on the list. The problem is that the Bible doesn’t really promise us happiness. There are tons of promises in God’s word, but most have to do with our character. Most of us have heard it said that “God is more interested in our character than in our comfort.” Here are a few of the reasons that joy is simply better. And just to make the point, it’s not that God doesn’t want us to be happy, it’s just that happiness was never meant to satisfy our deeper longings.
First, happiness is really external, and joy is internal. We are happy when we get a gift from someone, we are happy to receive an award, and we are happy when everything works out like we want it to. These things are nice, but they are largely external. Joy, on the other hand, is something more. We feel it internally when we worship, when we accomplish something meaningful, we we hold our children, even if they’re crying. We feel joy, even to remember that Christ died for us. He DIED for us…why should that bring us joy? Because joy pertains to our deeper nature. John 5:11 says “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Second, happiness is a feeling, but joy is often a sacrifice. There are so many things we can do in the world that make us happy, but once again, the pleasure we receive is mostly in the flesh. The Bible reminds us that when we serve others, the joy we receive is something that fills us, satisfies us, and flows back out of us into the world. In other words, happiness is something that reaches maturity in this world, but joy is like a whisper of something that is from heaven. Something that is never ceasing, has a life of its own, and becomes complete as it is shared with others. While happiness is not always, necessarily good, joy is purely Good because it is part of the fruit of God’s Spirit!