What in the world is “joy to the world”?
People can be confused about life if they ignore the Owner’s manual. That’s okay as long as in our mistakes, we seek the Bible, where we find every necessary explanation.
Regarding joy, we find it is a gift from the Spirit of the Living God. (Galatians 5:22)
This gift, the angels tell us, seems to have come simultaneously with the birth of His Son. (Luke 2:10) Amazing, going far beyond the usual joy at a successful birth of a son, this joy seems to know no bounds, and is the soul’s antidote to the worst of evil. (Matthew 5:11-12)
Limitless, unrestrainable joy can be ours. Like a deep current under the surface waters of the streams of our lives, we can have this hidden, mysterious constant: joy.
But only if we have the Spirit that is Holy. Our having joy depends on nothing less.
For this reason, we find all sorts of encouragement to contentment in God’s Word.
Paul showed us that he had arrived at being able to possess himself with contentment, no matter what the circumstances. (Philippians 4:11-12) Lots of incredibly hard things happened to Paul, (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) so we should consider him a reliable instructor in contentment, and he encouraged us to be content, no matter what.
Contentment is a choice, and depends on our obedience, and nothing less.
Ah, but happiness—where does it fit? Jesus was not always happy, (Luke 13:34) and neither was Paul. (Acts 23:1-3) Happiness is a normal, natural response to our happenings. It is a feeling, an honest reaction, to life, and nothing more.
When we lose something, be it possessions, reputation, or loved ones, we are not happy. No.
We can draw, though, upon that miraculous joy, ever residing in the core of our beings (if we actually have it, have that gift of Jehovah God’s Spirit.) We can rise above happiness to contentment, on the strength of that joy.
Not all things bring happiness, but we can learn to walk in contentment, if only we receive the gift He stands ready to give us—true joy.
Image by Fergal of Claddagh via Flickr