Faith-@-Work-questioning-God

Happiness Vs. Joy In The Lord

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” – Galatians 5:22

Have you ever been through a struggle? How did you feel during the hard times? Were you happy? Probably not. In the past four years since being saved, I’ve had a lot of what you would call, “Hard times.” From struggles in relationships, family, work, writing, and my life in general.

During these times I wasn’t happy at all and that made me question God. If I’m a Christian and gave myself to the Lord, why am I not happy? Why doesn’t anything work in my favor? I’m consistently living for God, going to church, bible studies, and helping others in need. I’m kind, considerate of others, and I hold my tongue when I would rather rain my wrath down on those who upset me.

God spoke to me one day while I was ranting all my frustrations out on Him. He told me to make a list of everything that makes me happy no matter how dumb it may seem. I’ll never forget my answer.

Shoes, animals, comfortable beds, pillows, blankets, movies, music, food, flowers, my hair, getting my nails done, kittens, money (making and spending), writing, reading, shopping, the mall, my family, my friends, laughing, jokes, my phone, Facebook, comics, scarves, clothes, beanies, hair accessories…

The point is, there was a lot of stuff that made me happy. Then God asked me the most convicting question I’d ever had. “How many of those things have to do with me?” I read over my list and almost died because I was so appalled with myself. Absolutely none of these things had to do with my faith or God or serving Him at all!

But God wasn’t mad at me because when I had only been saved for about two years. Spiritually talking, I was a mere infant at that time. There comes a point when every Christian has to learn this lesson. Next God said to me, “If I gave you these things: shoes, clothes, pets, and money, you would be happy. But these are not things that you NEED. They are what you WANT.”

“Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15

See, even when we try not to we look at God as if He is our Santa Claus. This concept is more than just thinking He’s a big guy in a red suit that gives us stuff. It’s believing that His sole purpose is to make us happy and that if we aren’t happy, then He is wrong. God isn’t here to make us “Happy.” Really, that idea limits God. God is eternal and His power is infinite where happiness is only temporary.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Money makes you happy until it runs out. Your boyfriend makes you happy until he does something wrong to you. Your pet makes you happy until they make a mess. Shopping makes you happy until what you bought isn’t new anymore. See the pattern?

The things that God does for you are far more valuable than what you do for yourself. God provides every need we have. He promises to clothe and feed us and always take care of us. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on the Earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves o not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to be happy and have these things. It also doesn’t mean that He won’t give the means of getting them. During this past Christmas, I had a so-called. “Best Friend” steal a lot of money from me. It ruined my chances of buying anyone Christmas presents and I was heartbroken. However, at the last-minute, I prayed to God to make enough money to buy my nieces and nephew something for Christmas.

What I wanted to get them all came to the cost of $55. So I asked to make at least $60 to cover the tax. That day I made $77. This was more than enough, or so I thought. When I got to Wal-Mart, I couldn’t find what I had wanted to get them. By the time I checked out my total was just under $77. I always love using this example because it shows how God cares and does want us to be happy.

The problem is when we get lost in it. Worldly things bring happiness. Material possessions and other people are just two examples. It becomes a problem when those things that make us happy become idols. The new guy in your life becomes more important than God, money becomes more important than God, reading a book more than your bible, etc.

Even though God wants to give us opportunities to be happy, but what He really wants is for us to be joyful. People like to put joy and happiness in the same definition, but they are two different things. There isn’t happiness in times of hardship, but you can stay joyful because of God. Being joyful allows you to get through the hardship easier because you know God will take care of you.

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” – Isaiah 12:3

Joy is something that only God can give you. Your boyfriend can’t make you joyful and your material possessions can’t make you joyful. Food, money, and sex can’t make you joyful. All of these things are temporary, but because God is forever so is your joy.

“(10) That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (11) I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,”[a] even though I am nothing.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10-11

So I urge you to do what God had me do. Get some paper and a pen. Write down everything that makes you happy no matter what it is. Don’t worry, some of these things may have something to do with God’s purpose for you such as helping others or going to church. When you’re done, read it and check everything that applies to God. How many things on the list are Godly?

“(7) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (8) Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” – Galatians 6:7-8

Picture Via Nashville Christian Family Magazine

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