Just recently my daughter has had to re-enroll in day care due to my husband’s change of work schedule. It’s been a difficult adjustment for her as she has gotten used to staying home with him throughout the day. One day she threw a terrible fit and we resolved that if she continued to cry when we dropped her off, we may have to seek out alternative options. We’ll after an extra long weekend due to three snow days, it was time to take Addison to day care. I braced myself for the news when my husband returned from dropping her off. “Did she cry?” I asked.
“No”, he replied. She was fine. She had a Pop Tart in one hand and a juice box in the other. And her favorite song, “Happy” came on, so she was good!
Imagining her singing and dancing to her favorite song brought a smile to my face. I can relate. I like the song “Happy” by the very talented Pharrell Williams also. The song is catchy; it makes me want to dance and instantly lifts my spirits. But it is also a reminder that happiness is fleeting. It comes and goes like the wind. It is predicated on if we have a pop tart in one hand and a juice box in the other. If circumstances are not aligned the way we believe they should be, we throw a fit. We become toddlers in the spirit realm crying out to our Heavenly Father to make everything right again, to meet our needs the way we deem best, to make us happy.A pursuance of happiness over contentment essentially leads us to mental, emotional, and spiritual instability. We waver to and fro: willfully and cheerfully serving the God who brings happiness and cursing and rebuking the God of suffering.
Many of my friends and family who do not believe in God or who do not love Him enough to serve Him with their lives choose to do so out of a misunderstanding of His love and grace. They question the existence of a “good God” who would allow so much pain and suffering to enter their lives.
What we can never fully understand as people who are inherently “self-centered” is happiness eludes us in a broken world. That since the fall of Man the only promise we have is that if we follow Him, deny ourselves and our desires that He would be with us, through the storm and the valley. He is with us in the face of execution, betrayal, abuse, loss, corruption, disease. We will not always be “happy” as Christians, but we are not promised happiness, we are promised an inexplicable joy.
So what’s the difference? Happiness is a feeling we get when life seems to be on our side. Joy is the confidence we have that all things, great and devastating, are working for our good. That in the face of evil, we have a savior who stands ready to avenge every wrong, every tear, every abuse. This is the everlasting hope of our lives. In this knowledge we pledge our faith. We can stand firm without wavering in the joy of the Lord. Those who have no hope beyond the grave live a life tethered to this world. To them, this breath, this vapor is so important, so real, that upset, turmoil, dissatisfaction is simply unacceptable because this is the only life that matters. Those of us who hope in eternity understand that the mere instant that is our natural lives cannot compare to the all-consuming power of eternity. It simply cannot measure up. So, while the world pursues happiness through gain, elevation, and comfort, we remain satisfied in any and everything knowing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. And this makes us more than happy, it brings joy unspeakable. Clap your hands if you know that this is the truth.