In a recent Bible study on Philippians we discussed what is happiness and what is joy? There are times in life when the two or wrapped together and difficult to separate in just one category. I will give a few examples.
Leading a Philippians discussion I said, “Happiness is I had a birthday party with cake, balloons, and presents. All my favorite people came to celebrate.
“What is joy? Joy is a rich attitude in my spirit whether I have a birthday party or not. Joy is always made deeper by gratitude to God for another year of living and seemingly more to come. This joy outlasts any birthday party with all the trimmings. Bill Burke wrote ‘a joy not dependent on circumstances, but rather a relationship with Jesus.’
My friend has been gone to Florida much, much longer than she planned due to illness. Six+ months in fact. A few ‘Ewe sheep’ from the “Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” book study decided to bless her with dusting, sweeping and a tiny bit of laundry before she arrived back in Ohio. We were tickled to do that together. It took all of about 45 minutes and led to deeper fellowship among us. That created happiness for us.
My same friend is due home in a couple days from this writing. I am almost overwhelmed with a deep and grateful joy over her homecoming. I can relate to Paul when he wrote about Epaphroditus in Philippians 2.
For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.Philippians 2:26-28
I have a taste of what the believers in Philippi experienced when they welcomed back Epaphroditus. She and her husband are coming home and I could not be more delighted! I will be so happy to see them. I will have to get accustomed to having someone IN their home, instead of an empty house across the street. I am ready to do just that!
Joy does not come from the ice cream cone company, not candy with almonds, not a talk show host or perfume. There is a common saying about ‘choose joy.’ Perhaps it should be find joy in God or choose gratitude or choose a positive outlook?
Delight, happiness, but also deep joy that the Lord is bringing them back to Ohio. I often get tangles in the yarn I crochet with. I do not even want to try to untangle these feelings. There has been deep joy as the Lord has walked with her through this nasty illness (no, not Covid, though she suffered that recently). She has known His presence and comfort in the dark hours of “alone-ness with sickness”. As many of you know I have a chronic pain condition. I have been able to encourage her through some of the things I have learned about coping, walking through the maze of medical decisions, trusting the Lord in the midst of no medical cure. Assured that He is comforting her and carrying her is the best blessing of all.
This neighbor only lived here 8-1/2 weeks before going to Florida. We became close, fast friends without even trying. Yes, we both now believe the Lord orchestrated our living across the street from one another. We are blessed to know each other. We are the same age, married the same amount of years, husbands are the same age. We both have a son and daughter. We have similar outlooks on our faith, though she is Catholic and I am protestant. The similarities go on and on.
So try to determine in your life where happiness flourishes and where it is in fact joy. https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/how-to-have-unshakeable-joy-like-paul.html says First, unshakable joy is rooted in Christ and what he has done for us. and Second, unshakable joy is rooted in the progress of the gospel. (see the link above for more details. Christ has done so much for us I could write until my fingers fall off and still not tell you all I have experienced of His power and working in my life. The progress of the gospel? Well the gospel has reached almost every single people group in the world. He is coming soon and we can trust Him to keep us until that day.
Joy unshakeable, joy unspeakable, joy beyond our wildest hopes and dreams. Let the Spirit of Christ dwell in you and lead you to His plan for the best you ever. Keep watching and yielding to Him!