I love being happy. But happiness is unpredictable; it feels vulnerable because it is tied to my circumstances. And don’t we all know it. One day you’re up; next day you’re down. Circumstantial happiness is an emotional roller coaster; it can really take you for a ride. It makes us heartsick in the way rolling seas and careening decks make us seasick.
Joy is something else altogether. It feels firmer, richer, less vulnerable somehow. I’m happy when my family goes out for ice cream, but it seems a little overblown to say I was filled with joy because of it. I was joyful at the weddings of my three sons. I was filled with joy over the birth of our granddaughters. Joy flooded my heart when a dear friend was cleared of cancer. I don’t think it was merely happiness; the joy felt rooted in the presence of God. His hand was so evident.
Joy is not happiness on steroids. It is not happiness squared. Every healthy human being has the capacity to feel happiness, but joy is something entirely different, made up of its own unique substance. It doesn’t come with the price of admission. Joy is connected to God and reserved for those who are tapping into His reservoir, who are connected to His life.
Joy is rooted in God and His kingdom, in the surety of His goodness, His love for us. It is immovable. Unshakable. Joy is available at all times, day and night, because God and His kingdom are always available to us. I’m ready to get off the roller coaster of happiness; I want my heart grounded in the higher place of joy. I bet you do too.