Joy > happiness

Joy > happiness

Everyone strives to live a happy life, but when happiness is dependent on our circumstances, how can we be joyful always?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definitions of happiness and joy are nearly identical. The reality is that happiness is a feeling evoked by the good going on around us. 

When the sun is shining, our paycheck just came in and we’re passing all our classes with As, it’s easy to be happy.

The late Adrian Rogers, former pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, said, “Happiness is like a thermometer—it just registers conditions. Joy is the thermostat that controls the conditions.”

The difference between joy and happiness is the inward and outward responses to our problems. Our joy isn’t based on our circumstances, but on our priorities and the posture of our hearts. 

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”

This verse explains how we can be joyful always as long as we are willing to overlook the outside factors and focus on the truth.

 In the midst of trials we can be joyful, because joy isn’t a byproduct of our circumstances. 

In John 15:10-11, Jesus says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

We are commanded to love each other and live in peace with each other. Those two things will never lead to conflict, and in turn, will lead to joy. 

Real joy only comes when we have a relationship with God and understand that in the midst of our trials and difficulties God is still in control.

Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”

True joy is unlocked when we lean into God’s promises of protection. Everything else will lead us back to the unending cycle of happiness based solely on our circumstances.

Ultimately, we have to make God and His promises our only source of joy.


  • Audrey Johnson

    Audrey is a sophomore majoring in elementary education. She is the religion section editor and a co-host of Tower Radio's podcast 'our high tops, His steps'.

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