What would you say, if someone were to ask you the question – what is the one thing you really want for Christmas, You know that one gift you simply cannot, and will not live without, what would the one thing you really desire be? Some would respond with the very popular phrase “I just want to be happy.” Others would respond with a desire for various material things, however happiness is found to top the list of the majority of people when asked about the single most desirable gift at Christmas. A dictionary definition of happiness is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” In general everyone wants to be happy, and somewhere alongside the thought of being happy would be the desire for a full life, one free of pain and suffering.
While happiness is a wonderful thing have you noticed that happiness is usually the result of a temporary circumstance? Happiness may come when you’re promoted, when you’re in good health, or when you spend quality time with a loved one. But the problem with each of these scenarios is the swift transitions that happen when these conditions suddenly change. Happiness is fleeting because it often depends on things outside of ourselves, what happens when you lose your job, when your health begins to fail, or at the loss of a loved one. When these types of things happen, we can just as suddenly lose our happiness, as when we received it.
What does all of this mean; simply stated happiness should never be your primary focus in life, the thing you chase, that which you seek after, happiness is not the end all. Instead, we would be better served if we sought after joy. The definition of the word “rejoice,” from which our word “joy” comes, is “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.” In direct contrast to happiness joy does not depend on your circumstances. Joy is dependent on God, True joy is eternal because it is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, which is itself an everlasting source of joy; real Joy only comes from God.
Happiness can be a by-product of joy; but unlike happiness, joy is static it won’t change with your circumstances. Whether you are on the mountaintop or in the valley, whether you are experiencing abundance or loss… joy will last. James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” How could we ever consider going through difficulties and trials a reason to feel joy? James 1:3-4 gives us a clue when it says, “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The apostle Paul was a man who suffered and went without the comforts of life more than most of us could ever imagine as he explained in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Yet he knew the secret of contentment: for in Philippians 4:12-13 this same Paul says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”.
The secret Paul discovered can be found in the 4th verse of the 4th chapter of Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” When we understand, true joy is found “in the Lord.” When you know Him intimately, trust Him wholeheartedly, and treasure Him above all things, then and only then will you have real joy in your life. This joy will not leave you when life gets tough because God won’t leave you when life gets tough.
Joy to the world!
The Lord is come, Let every heart prepare Him room, the Savior reigns, No more let sins and sorrows grow, He comes to make His blessings flow, He rules the world with truth and grace, The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love