What is the Difference Between Joy and Happiness?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 15, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

There’s a popular song out now called “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Chances are you’ve at least heard of it, but if not you can go check out the official music video here or read the lyrics here. In the video, all sorts of people from all different walks of life show off their dance moves to the song, and generally show they’re happy with their dancing.

I’m sure we’ve all had those time in life when we do feel truly happy for a while. Maybe it’s a gorgeous spring day when the sun in shining and all seems right in your world. Maybe you just got engaged and are thrilled to be starting a new chapter in life. Maybe you were able to spend an amazing day with family or friends. We all have those times where do feel like everything is great and we are so happy we could dance, and we feel like nothing can bring us down!

But then, something happens. Maybe it’s getting in a fender bender, or being yelled at by your boss, or having a fight with your significant other. Something always happens to bring us down from the clouds of our happiness, doesn’t it?

Happiness is a very temporary thing. We enjoy it when we have it, and we continue to seek for it when it goes away. People try to find happiness in all sorts of things, from eating foods they enjoy to even “retail therapy” and buying things they like.

Joy, on the other hand, is not temporary. Joy is not a fleeting emotion like happiness is. Joy is knowing that God is in control and that in the end He will win the epic battle we call life. Joy is knowing that even when you’re not happy, God’s got your back and will always provide for you in the manner He sees fit.

Remember a few weeks ago when we talked about God answering our prayers? Sometimes the answer we get isn’t the answer we want, or in the timing we want. Joy is being ok with that and trusting and following God anyway.

In James 1:2-4, James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Do you consider it joy when you’re going through a tough time?

Going through a trial is one of those times that you’re definitely not happy, but you can still have joy if you have a relationship with Jesus. When our faith is in Christ, we have joy during difficult times because we know God is using those times to strengthen us. We persevere through them with His help, and eventually we will become mature and complete. Becoming mature and complete in Christ can’t happen unless we go through trials, therefore going through those times should give us joy because they help us become more like Christ. No matter what we go through, we can have the joy of the Lord because He is always with us and strengthening us.

Happiness is a temporary emotion that is fleeting; it comes and goes based on our circumstances. Joy is everlasting, knowing that we are being taken care of by our Heavenly Father who loves us. Joy does not depend on our circumstances in this life, but on our faith in God.

Which rules your life - happiness, or joy?