Have you ever really taken the time to sit and ponder the many emotions we experience during Easter?
On Good Friday, we may feel grief and heartache, even anger at the many trials and sufferings that Christ suffered.
The injustices that led up to his eventual death on the cross, may cause us to cry out at the unfairness of it all.
Then on Resurrection Sunday, we burst on the scene filled with gratitude, hope, and joy.
If you ask for a definition of the word “JOY“, a person might describe how they feel when they are HAPPY.
Although the two words seem synonymous, they are actually very different.
As I have been reading and studying in preparation for this Easter season, I have started to realize just how very different the two words actually are.
Happiness and Joy.
I have used them interchangeably all my life.
So why now, do I suddenly say that they are different?
I guess, I am just growing and maturing as a woman of faith, and have a more complete understanding of my relationship to the Lord.
Let me explain why I now believe that these two words are so different.
Happiness is the feeling we have when something good takes place, or when life is going along the way we like it to be going.
But JOY is something that we experience regardless of circumstances.
Joy comes from knowing Christ.
Joy is the sense of belonging in your heart, that is there with you, no matter what the external circumstances surrounding you may be.
Joy is Constant. Happiness is NOT.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection opened the way for all of us to enter into a relationship with God.
But there’s more…
To everyone with faith, the Father also sends his indwelling Spirit, who produces the fruit of JOY in our lives. (Gal 5:22)
Joy is not something we can manufacture; it’s the result of a growing intimacy with our Savior.
As our understanding of Him increases, so does our delight.
If Jesus is the object of our affection, we can’t help but rejoice!
When the world looks at you, they should be able to see the gladness in your heart.
I have been asked many times how I can have faith in a God who would allow me to suffer in life the way I have.
My answer is simple.
I believe in Him, because He never promised the way would be easy.
He told us that they first hated him, and that we would be hated also. (John 15:18)
He never, anywhere, gave the impression that being a Christian means that life is perfect or even easy…
He just promised it was worth it.
This is the reason that I understand so deeply the difference between happiness and Joy.
I am filled with joy, even when the circumstances all around me are in turmoil. I am at peace.
It is a deep-seated peace that the world cannot touch. It comes from the indwelling of His Spirit in my soul.
It is the desire of the Lord that we feel this JOY every day of our lives, not just on special occasions like Easter Sunday.
He wants this JOY to be evident in our daily lives to serve as a testament of Him.
Although troubles may come one right after another, our relationship with Jesus will never cease.
Even when circumstances seem to steal our peace, He is still with us.
I have discovered that there IS a way to rejoice no matter what you’re going through.
First of all, focus on Christ, not your situation.
Consider ALL that he has done for you and choose to be thankful for that, instead of focusing on the problems.
You will be amazed how this can INSTANTLY lift your spirits.
Let go of your need to know and control everything in life.
Trust that he has a plan and will work everything together for your good. (Romans 8:28)
When you read that passage, take a moment to really digest the meaning of that promise.
When you do that, you will KNOW that even though you may not like your circumstances, He is sovereign and promised to watch over and protect his sheep.
And then watch as joy returns to your heart.
If you are going through a hard time right now, hold onto the words of (Psalm 30:5) “ Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”
Just as Easter Sunday followed Good Friday, a confident peace will come to you in due time.