It’s merely a part of the “DNA” of who I am. I’m slightly more introverted than extroverted, reflective and introspective, analytical and judicious, and often misjudged. I don’t mean to come off as a mysterious and hard to figure out kind of person. But that is the reality of my serious nature. And that being the case, others sometimes think of me as unhappy and not joyful. It’s true that I appear to be more serious than I actually am.
My sense of humor is way more refined than those who do not know me could ever imagine. Some days, I have to control myself from finding humor in the words and events of every half hour. Yet, most of the time I typically give off this heavy and serious-minded vibe.
It would be tough to accurately learn the JOY level of similarly constituted personalities. That is unless you are willing to take the time to get to know us and listen to the very words proceeding from our hearts. In reality, the words of any man (or woman) are the telltale signs of their heart’s joy level. But here’s where the uninitiated get confused.
It’s not uncommon for people to use happiness and joyfulness synonymously. I wouldn’t say that they are complete opposites, but it is kind of like comparing apples and oranges, and pears (imagine my silly grin here). In thinking through life, we do find some differences.
When my grandmother whose life demonstrated a Christian commitment experienced death and left me behind, I wasn’t happy about that. When my daughter decided to move out from home and begin her own life of independence away from us, we weren’t happy about that. When my body was overtaken by influenza last summer, and I had to give up some speaking engagements, I wasn’t happy about that. But none of these have to change my disposition of joy.
The permanent disposition of joy that Christ wants His followers to maintain goes much deeper than the temporary circumstances of life. As a matter of record, John wrote that while in the midst of His upper room discourse Jesus interjected with, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (15:11). The context of, “these things” would be inclusive of His special time of sharing recorded from chapters 13-17 of John’s Gospel. Keep in mind that Jesus said “these things” while knowing that He was headed for death by crucifixion.
Throughout Scripture, there are many references and connections to joy. Most famously noted as a prison letter, Paul’s writing to the Church of Philippi is known as an epistle of joy because of its JOYful inundation. When Bible scholar Warren Wiersbe sought to write about this letter, he named his writings “BE JOYFUL,” and I really like that. In the final chapter of that short work, the Apostle leaves us the imperative: “Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I will say, rejoice!” This command indicates that my will has a great deal to do with my joy. Therefore, my two words for the new year are intentional and joy. Go ahead, make up your mind, and join me in this year’s endeavor. Be JOYful!
Let me bring this JOYful post to an end with a brief summary of what I think the main difference is between happiness and joyfulness. Happiness is always a temporary emotion, while joy is meant to be a permanent disposition. The joy of The Lord is my strength, and I can only describe it as a deep down peace, a settled contentment, which tells me everything’s gonna be alright in Christ.