Maybe you’ve already heard this. If you have, skip to the next paragraph. If not, then allow me to illustrate the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on circumstances, or on what happens. Happiness is a feeling that comes and goes, as do all feelings, and can be affected by any number of things, including the weather, bad burritos, headaches, etc. Joy is a state of mind that can exist regardless of what’s going on around you. But you have to choose it.
So I choose joy. I choose to be joyful. I choose to see that I am blessed. I choose to see that I’m not entitled to anything and that no one owes me anything. Any good in my life is strictly a byproduct of God’s grace.
Joy doesn’t gloss over difficulties and pretend that hardships don’exist. Joy sees beyond those obstacles to the great future God has promised to those who love him and are called according to his promises. Joy knows that while the problem looks big, God is bigger than the problem. Joy rests in the ultimate certainty that God wins in the end and everything wrong will be put right.
It really isn’t my joy. The verse says “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” I take that to mean that God’s perfect joy, that joy that is limitless and boundless, can be mine. It can sustain me when my willpower is gone, when I’m weakest, when I am powerless to do anything for myself.
So I’m choosing the joy of the Lord every single day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. In other words, in every waking moment I make the conscious effort to take hold of that joy and make it mine. I hope you will, too.