Weekly Devotional: The Difference Between Happiness and Joy

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“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” – 1 Peter 1:8

We often use the terms “happiness” and “joy” interchangeably, but are they really the same thing?

Happiness and joy are seemingly similar, but actually quite different. The key point being that God promises joy, but He never promises us happiness.

Being happy is an emotion, just like sadness or jealousy or fear. It is fleeting. You might be happy about something, but you are not going to be continually happy forever. Happiness is great, but we can get happiness from a lot of things, even earthly things.

Joy, on the other hand, is a long-lasting state of being. Joy is promised by God and something we should strive towards. In Hebrews 12:2 it states, “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We can have joy in the eternal life that awaits us after death. The constant knowledge of our salvation and God’s love for us will undoubtedly give us joy, even if our present circumstances aren’t ideal or we aren’t presently “happy.”

There is so much joy ahead for us. In Romans 14:17, it states, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

We know there will be joy in heaven, so we can have joy now in our expectant waiting. God promises us joy when He promises salvation. When we keep this truth in the forefront of our minds, we can find peace and joy even in our earthly suffering.

In Psalm 16:11, the psalmist writes, “You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”

Once again, God gives us joy, even if we are not happy. We do not have to smile all the time. We are not promised sunshine and rainbows in this life, but we are promised salvation and eternal life, which is cause for great joy even in the midst of pain and unhappiness.

Grand Canyon University seeks to trust in the promises of God. If you would like to learn more about the Christian identity and heritage of GCU or would like to read more devotionals please visit our website and check out the GCU Blog.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.