I buy a new outfit that I love. I wear it whenever I can because I feel great in it. That makes me incredibly happy... for a while. Fast forward a couple of years, and the same outfit depresses me, because it's old and worn. That happiness, like all others was fleeting.
Happiness is a fleeting thing. No happiness is lasting, because happiness is often based on things and circumstances. I'm happy sometimes, and sometimes I am anything but. Let me tell you, it's not easy being happy when your toddler is throwing a tantrum and won't stop screaming. It's difficult to be anything but immensely sad when a pregnancy you have waited so long for ends in miscarriage. Happiness doesn't rear its head when when a parent dies, or you have to watch your loved ones rip apart their lives and those of the people whom they are supposed to love the most over and over again to the point you are physically ill.
Happiness is but a vapor in the wind. People constantly seek happiness. They try to buy it or find it in adventure or other people. They may find it, but when happiness is over, the valley below the peak can be very, very low. I guess it's kind of like the euphoria of being on drugs, followed by coming down off of them. The good news is that while happiness is fleeting, joy is eternal.
Ok. I'm sure you may be saying, "Wait a minute. Happiness and joy are the same things, aren't they? They're just synonyms." They are similar, but they aren't entirely the same thing. The greatest difference between the two is that while happiness isn't constant, joy is. Why? Joy, true joy comes from the Lord and not things or circumstances.
This was a discussion we had in Sunday school yesterday (yes, we actually made because no one was sick or out of town!). We have a very big Sunday school class, and several members are going through very difficult times right now. Those people...well... momentary happiness isn't what's sustaining them right now, nor is it what really sustains any of us. Beyond the hurt and the pain, the sadness and the grief, even the anger and frustrations there is still joy. There is still a peace, because of the promise of Hebrews 13:5. "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Knowing that God is with us at all times and will never leave us is a reason to be joyful. I am his, and he is mine. Nothing can shake that, nothing at all. He is always with us, even when we aren't necessarily with him. Most of the time we don't understand why we're going through what we're experiencing, but God allows things to happen in order for us to grow.
In the four years we spent trying to have a baby, I was at one point at my lowest probably ever in my life. I wanted a baby so badly, and it seemed that everyone could have one easily except for me. I tried to fill that desire with things like my dogs. Now, I love Lucy and Dory, but the love I have for them is surpassed exponentially by my love for Ladybug. They made me happy, but in them I still couldn't find everlasting joy. Then I got pregnant. I finally had what I had wanted so desperately, only it was taken away at eight weeks.
I was devastated, and yet that was really about the time I believe that I really grew up more spiritually. I still loved my dogs, but I leaned heavily of God and my faith in him. Somehow in the midst of everything, I remembered my joy could only be found in him. I had to realize that people and things couldn't give me joy, only little flecks of happiness. I rejoiced in the Lord for just being alive and loved and trusted in him. Before I was ever pregnant with Ladybug, I still had the "joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart," because once again I was actively seeking him.
This week most of us will sit down and give thanks for the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Yet we should be thankful all of the time. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 states: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Rejoice always, even when things make us anything but happy there is still joy. Give thanks in all circumstances. We don't have to be thankful for all circumstances, but in all circumstances we should still be thankful. There is always something to be thankful for. Those of us who know the Lord have been given joy and peace, which are worth more than simple, worldly happiness.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." - John 14:27Do you know joy? Or, are you still pursuing things that bring a short-lived happiness? I invite you to know Jesus, know joy, and know peace.