I once heard it said that joyfulness and happiness are two very different emotions. At first, I was confused. In American English, we tend to use the words interchangeably to mean the same thing, though in some regions of the country the word “happiness” is used more frequently. In fact, the word “joyful” seems to have been delegated to the corner of holiday greeting cards and songs from a bygone era. So my curiosity was piqued.
How are joyfulness and happiness different? Many feel that the emotion we commonly associate with happiness is fleeting and dependent upon outside influences, such as other people or temporary circumstances. This is why we feel unhappy when we have been wronged or we are passed up on a promotion or our car break down on the side of a road.
On the other hand, joyfulness is a more enduring state of mind powered by internal influences, such as our faith or commitments. Even if someone has gossiped about us behind our back or we were not given a promotion at work or the car tire went flat on the side of the highway, we choose to not allow that negativity to pull us down permanently. We may reflect on our circumstances, maybe even feel a little unhappy or sad or frustrated, but it does not have to strip us of our joyfulness.While we may not always be happy, we can choose to nurture a joyful attitude. Click To Tweet
Therefore to have joy or be joyful is a conscience decision that each one of us has the ability make in spite of our circumstances. I was intrigued. As long as sin exists in this world, we will face challenges, sorrow, and pain. So I wondered how can we choose to keep a joyful attitude in the midst of all this unhappiness? Is it humanly possible?
Unfortunately, in this sinful world where we are contending not just with outside influences but a very real internal struggle with our selfish hearts and tendencies, we often cannot remain joyful from sheer determination and will-power – maybe for an hour or two, maybe even for a day, but not for the long-term. This is where the Christian turns to the Lord for help. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Psalm 55:22 also encourages us with the promise: “Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”
When we give our anxieties, our worries, our fears, our stresses, our burdens – everything that may cause us unhappiness – over to the Lord, He will give us the strength to find and keep joy no matter the situation we are in. Amen!
Inspiring verses about joy
Here are twelve beautiful and powerful verses from the Scriptures on the importance of joy in our lives:
1. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
2. “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” Proverbs 15:13
3. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
4. “But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!” Psalm 68:3
5. “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
6. “Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones.” Proverbs 15:30
7. “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.” James 5:13
8. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3
9. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
10. “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Philemon 1:7
11. “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35:10
12. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4