When I started preparing the lesson for this week’s Sunday School class, I began to think about what makes me happy… The “Church answer” of course is being a Christian makes me happy. But the truth is, being a Christian does not make me happy. Sometimes I’m down right cranky about it.
I mean, seriously, let’s be real here. There are days/weeks/months where I work and work and work my tail off trying to make an impact for the Kingdom, to see only minimal results – if that!
So what does make me happy? Being married to my best friend (when he’s behaving), my kids (most days), a clean house (rarely available), and a new gadget (they all quickly lose their appeal in this technological age).
Notice something about that list… Not a single one brings me happiness all the time. My husband will inevitably do something to tick me off (Hey! The hamper is wide open! Pretty sure your underwear will fit in there. Try it out!) My kids will find some way to frustrate me no matter how many times I pray for patience.
You see, happiness is temporary. Heck, a juicy burger can make me happy… Till its gone, and I’m bloated. The things of this world might bring us a little moment of happiness, but those things will always fade. Always.
Joy, on the other hand is different. Joy is defined as:
The emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally satisfying.
So if all those things I listed earlier only bring me temporary happiness, where am I supposed to find this source of “great delight”? If even being married to my very best friend isn’t enough, what is?
Simple answer: Following Christ.
“Now hold up, Bec… You just said that being a Christian will not make me happy. You’re talking out both sides of your mouth again.”
Pay attention now: Happiness and Joy are two completely different things. Happiness comes from the same root word as happen: hap. When something happens to make you happy, it is often by chance. It could make you happy, or it might not.
Joy, on the other hand, is brought on by something “exceptionally satisfying.” It satisfies the deep longings within. Your inner thirst is fully quenched. When something is satisfied, there is nothing left wanting.
Think of it like this: Say you owe a debt on a student loan, and you pay it off in full. You will have completely satisfied the requirements of the loan. The lender will never need another cent from you. Nothing. You have left nothing wanting.
That’s what Christ did for us. He paid our debt and left nothing wanting. There is nothing else that needs to be done. It’s all paid for! All that crap you did in High School… Paid for. The wordy-derd that slipped when that crazy person cut you off in traffic making you spill your coffee on your shirt… Paid for. That little secret that you’ve kept in the back of your skeletal closet all this time… Yep, He paid for that too.
There is NOTHING that can make God decide to bring it all back up to the surface again. The debt has been satisfied completely. And THAT brings me JOY!
There is JOY in knowing we serve a God who has already worked it all out. In knowing that God is sovereign, and His plan will be fulfilled.
There is JOY in reading His word. I love to read His words – written to Billions – knowing that those words were meant especially for me!
There is JOY in knowing that my life has been bought and paid for and that I cannot mess up enough to lose the love of my Father!
I can be full of JOY even in sorrows, persecutions, and trials.
2 Corinthians 6:10
1 Peter 1:6
There is nothing in this world that will ever bring me this kind of joy – nothing. There is also nothing in this world that will ever take my joy in Christ away – absolutely nothing! So I’ll keep on working my tail off, getting exhausted and cranky. Because underneath all the external whining, I am rejoicing in my ability to be used by my Father!