We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. – Romans 5:3-4 NLT
My mentor used to say that happiness comes and goes like a sneeze.
Happiness and joy are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Happiness is a temporary emotion based on external circumstances. It is the feeling we get when things are going well in our lives, such as when we get a raise at work, when we accomplish a goal, or when we are with loved ones. Happiness is fleeting and can be taken away just as quickly as it is given.
Joy is more powerful and permanent than happiness. It is rooted in the belief that God is all-powerful and good and that all things ultimately work together for our good and His glory. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances but on our relationship with God. Even in difficult times, those who have joy can find hope and peace because they know and trust in the goodness of God.
In Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome, he instructs the readers to have joy in trouble because we know something eternal will transform the temporary situation as God works everything for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His glory (Romans 8:28).
While serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, I was often sick. One time while I was convalescing from food poisoning, one of the national pastors came to visit. He said he was praying for me and asked God why I was so sick. He said God told him it was one way I could share His sorrow. Although I was far from happy about being sick, it gave me joy to know that there was purpose and encouragement for my fellow ministers through it all.
When we strive for happiness, we often find ourselves caught up in a never-ending cycle of trying to attain it. We think that if we can get that next promotion, find that perfect relationship, or buy that expensive car, we will be happy. But when we attain those things, we often find that the happiness they bring is fleeting, and we are soon back to searching for the next thing that will make us happy.
We can find a more profound sense of well-being and true joy. Even amid challenging circumstances, peace and contentment come from knowing that God is in control and working all things for our good.
1. What circumstance are you enduring now that God may be using to build your faith, character, or hope?
2. Can being honest about our troubles aid in bringing joy? Can praising God when we are unhappy be a source of joy?