In Pursuit - Happiness Vs Joy

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"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
" Philippians 4:4 Happiness is joyful, but being joyful doesn't always equal happiness.
We can find joy in many circumstances and situations, not all of which are happy times.
Happiness comes from outside circumstances, some of which we control and many that we don't.
Joy comes from within, which we do control completely.
So, for example, it's cruel to say to people who are in sorrow, "Smile, and be happy.
" It's better to come alongside and mourn with them than to try and force the square peg of happiness into a round hole of sorrow.
The human life is a life of tragedy, sorrow, heartache, and pain.
Yet in every difficulty, you can find joy.
Happiness is an outside job.
Joy is an inside job.
We arrive again at that pondering question, what does God have to do with it? And again the same answer applies...
everything! Look at our own society and those in it.
There are real estate tycoons who own half of New York City's business districts and computer software moguls that are struggling to find real happiness.
This is not to say that all of these people are miserable, but they are still in pursuit of what will fulfill them.
They have everything in the world within their grasp, and most of these things in their possession already, yet the pursuit is still in motion.
Most have not attained what they seek from within, although they have attained all that they seek from an outward desire.
The same can be said of the poverty stricken, as well, except they want outwardly and need from within.
When you acquire new things or attain certain levels of achievement, based upon the tangible world around you, you feel a sense of happiness.
This feeling, the emotion of happiness, has been born of external circumstances.
Unfortunately, the feeling is short-lived, leaving you with the desire or need to get more or do more to receive its brief reward again.
This is one of the chief reasons we see our global culture accepting the misconception of marriage so readily.
The world now perceives marriage as a test drive.
If it all works out without any inconveniences or problems, it's the extreme exception.
In most cases, it is a lease, not a purchase.
It's now acceptable to marry for awhile, even pre-planning for the nearly inevitable failure with prenuptial agreements.
Our society has become so confused about who they are and where we came from that people and their emotions are considered disposable.
It has become completely okay to use people for pleasure and toss them aside like trash.
Where and when did we become so terribly out of step with God? We cherish things, use people, and pursue the unattainable.
Somewhere in our cultural evolution into this heartless, self-serving, joy-starved society, we have forgotten the difference between happiness and joy.
We seek joy by attaining moments of happiness, when happiness is only really attained through sustained joy.
Joy is that mystical creature that lurks somewhere deep in all of our hearts, just waiting to surface, but seldom seen.
Some will even argue that joy doesn't really exist, but those very same people are those who have lost the true definitions of happiness and joy, wallowing in their self-made pity prisons lacking either one.
Others will tell you that they feel joy every time they find a new partner or purchase something new or achieve a certain new status level, but these are the truly confused folks.
They haven't lost the definitions, but sadly confuse the two.
Joy is only achieved when we can become content in where we are, yet knowing and still striving for where we are going.
Joy is brought about by inner commitment to appreciate where we are now, and by re-establishing correct values.
Joy understands that the people in your life are irreplaceable, even those who may be a thorn in your side sometimes.
Joy understands that it takes constant, consistent, concentrated effort to love and be loved.
Joy is derived from an inner perspective, not outward circumstances.
Joy isn't planning your future, but living it.
It's not getting married, but staying married.
It's not in having children, but in raising them.
Everything that brings true joy, also brings heartache at some point.
Sounds strange, doesn't it? But consider, how would we know up, if there were no down? How would we know right, without a left? How would you know good without bad, or hot without cold, or tired from rested, and on and on? You cannot know joy, without heartache, because one leads to the other and back again.
This is how we grow and mature.
This is how we become able and qualified to instruct others.
Joy knows contentment.
Joy knows peace.
Joy knows truth, the absolute Truth that leads to joy.
Joy knows gut-wrenching heartache and hard work.
Joy knows attainment of happiness, again and again, even in less than happy circumstances.
If in struggles, joy sees growth and opportunity to learn and become better.
If in happy moments, joy appreciates the reprieve from the struggles of this life.
Like love, joy is a decision.
It is a decision to persevere; to improvise, adapt, and overcome the negatives and reach through to the other side and grip only the positives.
Joy is an inward expression of praise to the Maker that becomes evident outwardly.
Joy is the light that we shine to the world, showing them that it is possible, it is real, and it is attainable.
In Matthew 5:15-16, Jesus said, "Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
" Notice something here blatantly obvious for us to understand? The scripture says "YOUR good deeds", which means effort and action on your part; then your good deeds are for whom to be praised? You, for accomplishing such kind and wonderful things? No! Your good deeds are for men to see and "praise your Father in heaven".
Joy knows service.
Leading other people by service to other people, to lead them to praise your Father in heaven.
Joy knows God, for God alone is the source for true and lasting joy.
The world is in pursuit, while God is attainment.
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