I’ve been speaking with a very good friend this morning about the difference between Happiness and Joy, and truly, I still have a lot more to learn. She described joy as a state of being that is dependent on God vs. the world; and is holy in a way that fills you up and provides your needs (I’m paraphrasing; sorry). Happiness is more worldly, we agreed. Happiness depends on your circumstances. And due to the nature of sin and the paradoxical nature of the world, I personally believe happiness can be more dangerous than suffering.
When I am happier, I have to be conscious not to pull away. Some of my good habits start to decay by the sensation that I don’t “need” to engage in them. I read scripture less. I rely more on myself. And over time, those little moments of exalting what I know over what God knows builds up, and I’m creating an idol of myself.
I genuinely believe that False prophecy starts as a generally microscopic thing, and has the power to grow in our lives into a screaming, violent monster. We seek God outside of where we can find him, defaulting to the ways of the world instead of the perfect peace we have in him. Is it boredom? Do we so become bored or discontent with all the good things that we have that we try to reinvent God in the places he has hated? We love the idea of consumerism and fulfilling our own desires over Jesus. If you look at evil in the world, part of what I’ve noticed is that it has a consuming, intoxicating nature that implies that nothing will ever be enough. Clearly, we don’t have “enough” even if we are in God, the World says. It’s the same root of sin with the apple. It’s all the same thing.
I’m talking about general rules here that I have noticed but not explicitly studied. There is so much of the bible and of life that I still don’t know. My own happiness would tell me that I don’t need to keep up the good fight of surrendering in order to learn more of God and give him larger influence in my life. My ego would create this cushy space in which it’s up to others to draw me back to God, instead of realizing that anything I currently have is fleeting. If I fix my eyes on God, regardless of happiness or suffering, I still have joy. We shouldn’t seek to be happy, we should realize that the healing that we need is found in a joy that is constantly accessible to us. And given that all that is true, I’ve got a lot more work to do.
I can focus more on who God is than happiness. I can allow who he is to affect my situation, because even if this is an up period, it won’t last. I don’t want my faith to be more crippled coming out of happiness than it was going into it. My circumstances should not affect my joy. This is also a good time to check my priorities, and discern why I’m focusing on things that aren’t as good as God in the first place. Is it really a good thing that [insert idol here] makes me happy? Do I really want that to continue to have influence in my life?
If joy is enough in the suffering, then it has the power to be our preference and source of fulfillment when things do work out in our favor. I think the goal is to realize that even in good things, joy is not circumstantial. We still have to want it over our default settings. It isn’t enough to rely on “our own” grace.
I’m going to leave you here, because I need to study and get right with God. There are some prayers that I need to pray and if I have to be honest, I don’t really want to do it. Yet I know of God’s surpassing goodness, which is far greater than my own. This isn’t a chore, this is the fulfillment of his promises than in my ignorance and striving, I could squander. I don’t want to have to answer for disobedience on this by ignoring these still small nudges, nor do I want Christ to suffer any additional sin. My life isn’t so special that any of my happiness can’t be taken away in an instant. Working towards an understanding where God is enough to make me humble is far better than this.