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Finding Joy Versus Seeking Happiness

August 2, 2008
By Walter Ellison Pastor, East Elkins Charge of the United Methodist Church

Joy, such a small word. But without it in your life, there is a hole that nothing can fill. Joy controls how you go about your everyday life. There is a concept that joy and happiness are one and the same. But, they are completely different, happiness is controlled by things that go on around you. When things are going the way you want them to go, then it's so easy to be happy, but if something happens to go wrong, it's also easy to lose your happiness.

The funny thing is, that people everywhere are doing everything they can think of to seek after happiness, but they cannot get a grasp on it. We see people playing the lottery thinking, "If I could only win this multi-million dollar jackpot, I would be so happy."

I have heard it said that money can't buy happiness, but it makes being miserable so much easier to bear. Never has there been a statement made with less truth in it. While these people are seeking after wealth, they are only concerned about what they can get and what it will do to improve their quality of life. We see people who are taking drugs, thinking that they can find happiness in them, thinking they can find a way to get relief from their problems, but all they are doing is creating more problems. Happiness still cannot be found.

1 Timothy 6:10 says that "the love of money is the root of all evil." We see that this is true as evidenced by all the evil in the world today. Everyday we see and hear articles in the news about a drug bust, a robbery or a murder. Most all of these can be traced back to the love of money. But still there is no happiness. Why? Because people are turning to the wrong source looking for happiness. Psalm 50:10 says the cattle on a thousand hills belong to my father God, the creator of everything.

Joy. I think we need to spend a few moments to discuss the source of our joy and the difference between joy and happiness. We already know that happiness is controlled by the circumstances going on around us. Now joy is a controlled action, and the control comes from what is going on inside of us.

People are searching for truth. The biblical definition of truth is Jesus. In the Gospel According to John 14:6, Jesus tells Thomas "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes to the father, but by me." In John 14:1, Jesus tells us "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me" Jesus knew that with troubled or stress filled hearts there can be no joy. So he made provision for us so that we can always have joy within us. As Jesus taught the disciples the way to live their lives, he told the disciples in John 15:11, "These things have I spoken to you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."

In the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers of this nation recorded this as the people of the colonies were about to break away from the mother country, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." These great men realized that God intended for mankind to have a chance for happiness, but as human beings the realization of this chance was as far as they could go. The only way that this chance of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" can be realized is within a relationship with Jesus Christ as lord and savior of our lives.

In Psalm 51:12, David, the psalmist, asked God to restore to him the joy of salvation. David knew where the source of his joy cam from, and he realized that he had let it escape him. He knew the only way for his joy to return to him was to go back to the source. Jesus is the source of our joy, and with joy we can pursue happiness. We can look wherever we want, within reason, for happiness, but there is no guarantee that happiness is to be found. But there is a guarantee that we can have joy in our life. That guarantee is Jesus Christ who said, "because I live, you shall live also." So, with that guarantee, we should seek happiness.

If you have Christ in your heart, joy already exists there, so you already have a head start on happiness. Live your life to the fullest extent of your ability and let joy direct you as you go along.

In my life, I find that no matter what happens in my day to day walk, I have happy moments each day and sometimes that happiness comes to stay for a while. But no matter what happens in my life I have the assurance of joy from Jesus Christ, for I know the source of joy. As the Apostle Paul recorded in 1 Timothy 6:6 that "godliness with contentment is great gain." So, as I go from trouble to triumph, I know how to be content wherever I may find myself. Because I know that there is joy present and that happiness is within reach. Always keep Christ first in your life and joy will always be there for you.

(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)



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