By Rev. Jeff Gannon –
What is the difference between happiness and joy?
Does Christian joy, which flows from believing in the Good News of Jesus Christ, mean that I am supposed to be happy all the time? The short answer is: no!
What is joy?
- Joy is not a fleeting feeling
- Joy is a permanent result of one’s connection to God.
- Secular joy is defined as an intense form of happiness
- Christian joy is always about a relationship with the living God!
This does not mean that the Christ-follower is always happy. Sadness is a natural response to pain, suffering, and tragedy. William Barry, a Jesuit priest and clinical psychologist says, “If you’re not saddened by certain things, you’re not normal!”
The shortest verse in the whole of the Bible gives indication that Jesus, upon standing at the tomb of Lazarus, began to weep. Jesus’ weeping is a sign of his compassion and of he being fully human. “See how he loved him!” said those in the crowd.
If Jesus was sad, surely we can be sad.
The Good News is that Joy…Christ-centered joy….can creep into our lives and catch us unaware – most especially in dark times. Kathleen Norris, author of Acedia and Me says…”I was anxiously watching an oxygen monitor in my sister’s hospital room, when a janitor came in with a mop. In a low voice, barely perceptible, she was singing a song I recognized, a love song from a Broadway musical. I commented on it, she began to sing louder, in a voice more enthusiastic and polished. But small matter. By the time she left the room, my sister and I had been treated to three songs and a significant portion of her life story. Joy is powerful medicine.” Norris concludes, “I am convinced that joy is a fruit, because it tastes so sweet!”
Have a blessed week…and remember…”.the joy of the Lord, the most joyful Being in the universe, is our strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)