Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Resting in Joy

The thing I notice about the world's idea of "a good life" is that happiness always seems to be the goal. Whether we are trying to earn more money, impress people, or find that thing that we are meant to do, the end result we are hoping for is essentially happiness. As humans, we long for that kind of feeling. The feeling of comfort and security and well, happiness. The only problem is that happiness is slippery; always escaping us. Consider this:

Happiness is a temporary reaction to fleeting circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is the response of the believer to good news...The word for "joy" in the New Testament is chara, meaning cheer, gladness or celebration, and its root word is charis, meaning grace. Joy is an attitude shaped by God's grace in our lives, not a reaction. (from Walking In Grace, First Place 4 Health Bible Study)

It suddenly becomes very clear to me why life can be so frustrating and tiring at times. When happiness is the goal--we are destined for defeat. Happiness comes and goes. In fact, it can "go" for a long time. Some people suffer their entire life. (Ever heard of Jesus?) How is one supposed to do that apart from the grace of God? We can't.

The crazy thing about grace is that it takes this idea of "happiness is the goal" and completely blows it out of the water with something called joy. Joy says of itself, "I don't need something good to happen to exist. I can exist right through the bad things, the hard things, the horrible things. In fact, I thrive in those things."

Peter says it really well:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

Joy is something that's living...something that can never perish, spoil, or fade. It's never ending. Happiness can fade. It can and will spoil. Happiness is anchored in "good" things happening to us. The life of happiness is dependant on a fallen world and a fallen people to sustain it. Whereas joy is dependant on the very Sustainer of all things--Jesus Christ.

This is the picture I have in my head: I am very thirsty. I imagine going to the faucet with my cup and only drops of water come out. The drops are few and far between. There is no rhyme or reason to when the next drop will come. I am so thirsty that I put my head under the faucet to catch every drop that I can. With each drop that I swallow my thirst increases. I am desperate for more. I am desperate for something that may or may not come. I become tired. My neck and body begin to hurt, but the thirst won't go away...

We are a thirsty people. Happiness will never be enough to quench that thirst. It will never be more than a tiny, unpredictable drop in the bucket of unrelenting joy afforded us through God's grace. When we come to Him with our cup in hand, He will fill it completely time and time again. We don't have to remain prisoners to the stingy faucet of happiness.


  1. I'll be back to read all of this and to finish my Counting it All JOY post for today. Just wanted to say Happy Birthday, Keelie!

  2. I did come back. I know this, but need to be reminded of it everyday! Thank you so much, Keelie! I hope you had a very Happy Birthday!