“If you’re happy and you know it. . .” When we sing that and clap our hands, that makes sense to me. People usually applaud when they are happy–after their team scores, when their child walks across the stage at graduation to receive their diploma, and when good news is announced. I never quite understood though why the next verse says, “Stomp your feet.” Most people stomp around when they are mad, agitated, or frustrated. However, this question is even more curious. “How is it we can have joy even when we are not happy?” Here’s a couple answers. First, joy and happiness are actually not the same thing even though we often use them interchangeably. “Happy” is an emotion just as “sad” is. Joy is an internal state we experience because we recognize the rich blessings from God and His work in our lives. Thus, we can have joy without feeling happy. On the other side, we don’t experience true happiness without joy. Second, happiness comes and goes. We often feel frustration, anxiety, stress, sadness, or anger that robs us of our happiness. We just can’t be happy all the time because there are other emotions that overwhelm us. BUT we can have joy in our hearts at the same time as our frustrations, fears, stress, or sadness because we can always find joy in any situation.
Can you name 5 characters in the Bible who would not have been happy in their situation but could still have joy because they knew God was in control in their lives?
So, why is joy so important? One incredible fact about joy is that God puts it into our lives! Returning again to Galatians 5 and thinking about the fruit of the Spirit – joy. The fruit of the Spirit is, what God grows in us when we allow His Spirit to reign in our lives. Why does living for our Lord increase our joy? Let’s think of some reasons:
- Living your life for Jesus and His glory is the best way to live your life.
- Selfless living rewards us.
- Sin leads us to many disappointments, sleepless nights, heartaches, and headaches; living for God tends to bring the opposite: fulfillment and peace.
- If joy comes from the realization of God’s blessing and His work in our lives, joy brings more joy!
Here’s some Motivation
Here’s a little motivation for finding joy in Christ. Do you ever feel purposeless? Feel empty? Do you experience overwhelming feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, or hopelessness? When our joy is based in God, His faithfulness never lessens, weakens, or stumbles. When our joy is based in God, even our worst day on Earth doesn’t diminish His goodness. Really and truly, we need to plant our joy not in things that sway, but in the promises and sweet love of our God and Savior! By turning our lives, thoughts, words, and actions over to God and the way He would have His children live, we turn our focus to what God is doing in us and through us–and that provides a deep, true joy.
Passages for Further Thought and Study:
- Matthew 13:44 (Think about what causes joy here.)
- John 15:5–11
- 2 Corinthians 8:1–5
- James 1:2–4
- Hebrews 12:1–2