Joy versus Happiness. Are they the same?
No. Happiness usually depends on outward circumstances, people, or events. It can be short-lived. Joy, however, is an inner state of being. It is consistent. The mark of a soul at peace with itself and with God.
Jesus talked about joy when He was facing the cross and preparing His disciples for the hatred and persecution they would encounter. A strange context for joy. Yet something set this kind of inner elation apart from the ordinary. This joy was a gift that He would give, and that no one could take away. Joy that would remain in spite of torture, imprisonment, separation from loved ones, and death itself.
We can pursue happiness, but joy must be cultivated in the heart. It comes when we focus on eternal realities. It rests in the hope and promises of what lies ahead for the believer. It delights in the memories of what God has done in the past. And it flows from an indefatigable source: the Holy Spirit himself!
To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with joy. This is the joy that can only come in knowing and loving God. Nothing can disturb this inner cascade of blessing. We only have to stop and enter into the quiet place where joy manifests itself. Then we can walk and live in the refreshing that it brings.
God offers us something better than momentary happiness: the joy of fellowship with Him.