Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. [Psalm 97:11 (NLT)]
I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. [Psalm 9:2 (NLT)]
What makes us happy? Could it be a phone call from a good friend? Is it when we’ve made a profit in the stock market or received a large commission check? Are we pleased when our checkbook balances on the first attempt or when the accountant informs us that a large tax refund will be in the mail? Are we happy when someone sends us flowers or our child brings home a good report card? Does finding the ideal gift for our spouse’s birthday or receiving the perfect gift for ours give us happiness? Would we be happier if we could enjoy two weeks at a luxury resort or had a state-of-the-art home theatre or gourmet kitchen?
Happiness tends to depend on external circumstances. Joy, however, is something we can have regardless of what is occurring around us. We are made happy by something that happens to us. In contrast, we are filled with joy by something that happens in us: God’s love.
We’ve all known people who almost radiate with joy. They seem to light up a room when they enter it. When we analyze their lives, however, we often find situations that would surely bring us unhappiness. Their family might be in debt, the husband may be unemployed, or a child might be developmentally disabled. They may have a chronic illness or be in physical pain. In spite of their troubles, however, these people seem incredibly blessed—they’re so much at peace and so full of joy. Why? Because, true joy is not dependent on circumstances. It comes from a steady relationship with God. Whenever I get to know people who sparkle with joy, I discover that they are radiating the joy that comes from a relationship with God. When our lives are linked with God, they will be filled with joy, no matter what our condition may be.
Our God is so wonderfully good, and lovely, and blessed in every way that the mere fact of belonging to him is enough for an untellable fullness of joy! [Hannah Whitall Smith]