So, does that sound crazy? The world loves to toss around the word happy. We are happy or we are sad. Can’t be both. Naturally, we prefer to be happy all the time. Not logical to expect it, but well, we aren’t always logical, are we? So, this happiness thing . . . what’s up with that? Well, to keep things simple, something happens – if we like the something that happened and if it impacts us, we generally will be happy. Sometimes we do things to “make” us happy, and not always good things, but that happy feeling is something we like and it doesn’t last. We have to keep chasing it and finding ways to bring it back to us. Okay, makes sense. So, very clearly if we are happy, we are not at the same moment sad. One replaces the other. Both are connected to specific stimulus.
Joy, however, comes from within us. It’s not reliant on external conditions. It can rain and I can be full of joy. No, that doesn’t mean I love rain nor do I hate rain, but it just means joy comes from deep inside me where Jesus lives. It never rains in there. I can hold hands with Jesus anytime I want to. He’s always with me. That can only result in joy, yet external conditions can be such that I am sad and YET having Jesus in my heart and soul brings joy into the equation and so what is the result? A specific circumstance can make me sad, but the presence of the Lord can override this circumstance and STILL bring me joy even in a time of sadness. I think, for me, I can only deal with sadness because I have Jesus to love me and “infect” me with His joy. In fact, He gives me so much joy that I have to share it and I never run out! Happy can’t do that for me. Do I like being happy? Sure, but I prefer joy!
So, what brought about all this thought just now? Well, a couple of things. For one thing, it seems to me that I can choose to be joyful. Jesus lives in my heart but I don’t always pay Him the attention I should. Sometimes I get caught up in “me” and suddenly the world seems to be against me. When I turn my gaze toward Him, none of that matters and in fact, I don’t even notice it anymore. All I notice is Him and all I really become aware of is His love and joy. So, if I’m having a bad day, I can get caught up in complaining and very likely those around me who were having a good day might suddenly get caught up in my negativity and next thing you know, I am not the only one in a bad mood. Alternatively, I can come into a scene where all around me are grumpy and negative and I can smile and be reflective of the joy of the Lord, and someone is bound to catch it! I can even force a smile on my face and deliberately remind myself that “the joy of the Lord is my strength” even when I’m feeling bad, and the “bad” feeling often goes away! How cool is that?
The other thing that got me thinking of this is that I have two friends who have faced so many difficulties in their lives. Illness, family challenges, financial challenges, and much more. One of these dear friends lives in heaven and one on earth. Do you know what? I can’t think of a time when I’ve seen anything but the joy of the Lord and a giving heart in either of these two special people. No matter how sick either has been, no matter how much has ever “gone wrong” in their circumstances, they still reflected joy and they focused on Christ AND they focused on those around them – striving to lift US up by shining His light toward US! As I looked into the eyes of my friend earlier today and knowing his troubles, I am sad. I remember feeling the same way before when my friend who lives with Jesus was still here with me in form and not just in spirit. Do you know what? I never saw sadness in her eyes and I didn’t see it in his today at church. I saw only the love of Jesus and His joy! There is no better testimony than that!