Joy can be such a misconstrued concept. With so much input, I had to chime in!
Do you remember the little “Happiness Is” song? I was in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown as a junior in high school. Played the role of Lucy Van Pelt – the doctor is in. “Five cents, please.” And now, mummmph-ty-mmmph years later, I still remember every phrase of that song. “… finding a pencil, tying your shoe, catching a firefly …” All of the paths to happiness are simple, everyday successes. Just makes you want to hug yourself. How sweet. How cozy … How wrong.
Don’t misunderstand. Looking for the good in circumstances – the Pollyanna effect – is great. I’m a BIG POLLYANNA!
But what happens when a day offers no successes. What happens when reality steps in with financial pressures, health issues, separations, deadlines, traffic, noise?
And then the copy machine runs out of ink. (Seriously. On some days it just doesn’t take that much, does it?)
Those are the times when you learn how truly temporary happiness can be. Based on the happenings around you, happiness is as fleeting as a soap bubble. It’s created when we work at looking at things a certain way, but when that item disappears, we have to contrive another one to take it’s place in order to maintain the feelings.
On Dear Boy’s blog, he put it like this: “I remember this part of my life! And it wasn’t even that long ago! I was constantly chasing after all these temporary highs, trying to make myself happy as often as possible, only to become depressed and upset (and sometimes even angry) at my pitiful excuse for a life.”
Like chasing a rainbow, happiness will not fulfill, will not remain, and cannot be bottled and saved.
But our Great God didn’t offer us happiness. Christ Himself said in John 16:33 “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Instead, our loving Father offers us a constant companion, part of Himself, in the Holy Spirit. And by living life with that Spirit, building a relationship with our Father, the fruits of His Spirit grow in us.
The second of those fruits is Joy.
I define joy as a mixture of peace, contentment, and hope, with a smattering of assurance mixed in. It will usually show up as a smile, but not always, yet where it is, it remains.
Not dependent on the world around us, Joy is often found at the worst possible times. Like the time in the Apostle Paul’s life that Dear Boy commented on in his article. Paul sat in Nero’s prison writing what he believed could be his final letter to a man he loved like a son. After shipwrecks, sickness, stonings, constant threats, beatings, and false accusations, and after living for years with an intense pain, he wrote these words: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18
That is Extreme Joy!