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Happiness Or Joy?
by Mark Nickles
2/10/2020 / Christian Living
I once heard someone say, “God just wants you to be happy.” Many people connect with this sentiment, and it’s easy to understand why. Who wouldn’t want to believe that God desires, and even arranges circumstances which contribute to, your happiness? However, having given much thought to that statement, I have come to realize that the belief that God “just wants you to be happy” sells both Him, and you, short. There is more…, MUCH more, that He wants for you.
Let me begin by contrasting the joy of God and happiness. Happiness is what we experience when circumstances favor us. Things are good at work. Things are good at home. Our relationships are flourishing, we have more money coming in than going out, those around us seem to have a good “image” of us…, these things make us happy. But, what happens when some or all of those things aren’t true? Happiness comes to an end.
The joy of God is what one experiences when they surrender their lives to Jesus, and it remains, even throughout difficult circumstances. In John 15, verse 11, Jesus told His disciples that He had arranged for His joy to be “in them”, that their joy “may be complete”. The Greek word used for joy in this passage is “chara”, which means calm delight, cheerfulness or gladness. What is extraordinary is that, just a few verses later, Jesus explained to His disciples that the world would hate them because of their commitment to Him. This joy was meant to help sustain them during that time. In fact, many Christians who have suffered in life over the centuries have given testimony of the joy of Christ, which never left them. And, while it certainly doesn’t mean we celebrate the dark times of life, it DOES mean that we can sustain the certain knowledge that God is in control, and our confidence in His plan.
Happiness is great…, for as long as it lasts. But, God wants you to have His JOY, through Jesus Christ. It never ends!
Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in Northeastern Oklahoma. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.
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