Joy or Happiness?

Have you ever experienced the joy of the Lord? No, I’m not talking about happiness. Happiness is not the same at all. Happiness relies solely on the external. Things like pleasure, personal experience and circumstance. The joy of the Lord is wholly different. Let me give you a few examples. Chocolate-peanut-butter ice cream makes me very happy. Blue jeans that fit make me very happy. Children who don’t argue in the car make me very happy. But, smiling while I’m grieving, being able to hug someone who has hurt me, and having indescribable peace when my world is falling apart, now that is the joy of the Lord.

The joy of the Lord is what separates Christians from the rest of the world. It is where the rubber meets the road, if you will. Being a regular Sunday pew warmer will not build your spiritual muscles. Sure, it’s a great start, but having peace through a storm, a song in your heart through a fiery trial, or the strength to get up the very next day when your heart is breaking, that my friend is what people are watching for. What they are seeing is the joy of the Lord.

I witnessed the joy of the Lord last night.

Friends of ours pastor a small church. Their congregation has run them out. They built their little church from the ground up over twenty-five years ago. Slanderous words, hurtful accusations and unbearable gossip have been the arrows that have pierced their hearts. It has been so sad to watch. And for now, I must refrain from going down a bunny trail about power hungry, prideful sheep.

Instead of putting their congregation through this ugliness, they have decided to step down. In return, the Lord has blessed them and opened up a path for these precious saints to walk through, close to their children and grandchildren. But sadly for us, out of state.

It was an honor to be a part of their going-away potluck last night. What many would expect to be an evening of tears and sadness, was instead filled with many stories of God’s faithfulness these past few months. And of course good food, wonderful fellowship, and much laughter. They are full of smiles and hugs, waiting with joyful anticipation for what God has planned next for their lives. I had tears in my eyes when this sweet pastor and his wife encouraged us and sang the precious hymn “In The Garden.”

Friends, there is an indescribable, irresistable and unexplainable joy of the Lord. I was blessed to witness it last night.

Nehemiah said,

“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)

One Response to Joy or Happiness?
  1. Shera
    April 1, 2009 | 12:17 am

    I love how you got right down to it and totally distinguished the amazing, but too often overlooked, difference between joy and happiness. Thank you so much for sharing this today!