Joy Even Amidst Unhappiness

Happiness.

A fleeting–seemingly unachievable–state in our lives. Right when we think we are happy something happens to change our status to unhappy.

Joy.

Contrary to what we might think, this is not the same as happiness. However, with that said, it is still fleeting for most.

The picture/quote on my calendar for this weekend got me thinking about the difference between joy and happiness:

It should instantly cause red flags to go off. Paul has a much different idea of what our lives should look like. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” As i mentioned above, while some might confuse this with happiness, there is a difference.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism opens this way:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

This is ultimately founded Scripturally in 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Psalm 16:5-11 (among many other passages). At which point we quickly see that Dalai Lama is wrong. The purpose of our lives is not to be happy; it is to glorify God.

John Piper slightly rephrases the Westminster Catechism by saying, “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” This restatement puts legs on the call for humanity by telling us how to glorify God. It requires us to actively seek to enjoy God.

Therefore the chief end of man is twofold: it is both a quest to glorify God, but it is also a quest to find joy in God. John Piper is also famous for saying, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

We cannot find joy in people or things. Happiness yes. Joy no. This is why happiness is so fleeting. We become happy around a certain person. We become happy eating a certain food or drinking a certain drink. We become happy living at a certain economic status. However, when the person leaves (whether through breakup or death), happiness flees too. When our doctor tells us to lay off that food or drink for the betterment of our health, happiness flees. When the money dries up, happiness flees.

Joy is different. It is a fruit of the Spirit. This means that it is a gift of salvation alone. The only place to find joy is in God. Because He will never leave, neither will joy.

However, joy is still fleeting for many. Too many people do not know God. You cannot be joyful and refuse to know God. Know God, know joy; no God, no joy.

If we seek joy in God and no one and no thing else, not only will we be unphased when relationships fall apart, when food becomes bad for us, when money dries up, or when countless other negative things occur, but we will also be glorifying God and thus fulfilling our purpose on this earth.

Do you know God, or are you still living a joyless life?

Soli Deo Gloria

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