Fruit of the Spirit – Joy

joy

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:11

Doesn’t that sound amazing!?   How can we experience this joy?  Then I began to think, isn’t this happiness? Aren’t the words joy and happiness interchangeable?  No they aren’t the same thing at all.  Let me explain.

Happiness is an emotion. Happiness is not an emotion we learn; it’s emotion dependent on circumstances happening in accordance with our desires, such as like when we buy a new car.  Think about that new car smell, the feeling of happiness as you drive it, see it in your driveway.  Yep, that’s happiness.  But that feeling doesn’t stay with us, it fades away.  We can’t depend on happy things happening in our lives all the time, that’s just not how life is.

Joy on the other hand, is an emotion that happens within us as we develop an appreciation and thankfulness for the constants of life God created.  It’s the feeling we have when we are communing with nature, in relationships with others or having faith in something that is larger than ourselves.

See the difference?

Joy is a powerful emotion and the opposite of fear.  Didn’t see that one coming did you?  While reading about joy, the word fear kept coming up.  I began to pray for understanding leading me to this  ~ these two emotions are in constant battle within us.  Fear to me is False Evidence Appearing Real.  Have you ever noticed when you are feeling joy there comes along a little nagging voice telling you don’t get so comfortable.  That’s fear robbing us of our joy.  When we allow that nagging voice to rob us of our joy we tend to settle for sporadic happy highs and don’t reach for the joy.

Joy is something you teach yourself, it’s an emotion that can rule our daily lives.  We need to develop  joy and teach ourselves how to be joyful in God’s love. Since I’ve been learning about joy and how to be joyful in my everyday life I’ve seen a change.  It may not seem like much to some but to me it’s tremendous.  I’m not on a roller coaster with my emotions.  I’m not overly happy over things but I’m not longer falling apart when things don’t go right.  I appreciate what I’ve been blessed with even more… my God, my faith, my family, my friends… it’s like I’m seeing the world, my life through new eyes.

The Word speaks more of joy (158 times) than happiness.  God wants you to experience happiness too but His greatest desire is that of unconditional joy.  Remember Jesus said His joy would “remain in you”.

What does joy in you show the world?  Gratitude for the wonderful things has done for us. Contentment knowing that God is in control.   Optimism of what you future despite things to the contrary.   When you are joyful you look beyond yourselves to others.  We focus on loving others more than ourselves and especially on loving God in a deeper more intimate way.

We can have joy and still experience  sorrow at the same time. It can be the sorrow of repentance toward God.  When we feel horrible about our sins we can still feel the greatest joy that God has forgiven us our sins by His amazing grace.  We can mourn over the suffering of others while still having joy knowing that God will solve all their problems eventually.  God’s joy flows through His children even during their suffering because of their hope in Him; they know all suffering is limited to this life.

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” Psalm 5:11 ESV

“Happiness is a gift from a friend or a kiss from a child.

Joy is feeling love for someone and noticing when someone loves us.

Happiness is a day when things are going really well.

Joy is finding a way to laugh when things get too scary, or smiling at someone on the street, even when we are feeling heavy.

Happiness is a good beer and a great Chicago pizza.

Joy is realizing that we have access to food and water, all the time.

Happiness is feeling the sunshine on a beautiful day like today.

Joy is knowing that the sun is always there, even when it’s cloudy.

Happiness is winning an award or getting a raise.

Joy is waking up every morning and doing what you love.

Happiness comes and goes.

Joy comes and goes, but it’s always a choice.

Happiness is an emotion, and emotions naturally change.

Joy is realizing, regardless of how you are feeling, that you are OK and things are going to be OK.

Happiness comes from things working out the way we planned.

Joy is knowing that the plan is bigger than our immediate desires.

Happiness usually comes from external circumstance.

Joy comes from inside; from being grateful and noticing what’s working.

Happiness is a wish.

Joy is a practice.

Happiness can be surface.

Joy runs deep.

Appreciate happiness.

Live joy.”

Cathy Cassani Adams