May 26: Joy is permanent, happiness is fleeting

Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow. —Helen Keller.

We’ve all seen people who have lost their joy. They are filled with sadness and discouragement, even miserable, some to the point of depression. Keep in mind, though, that there is a difference between happiness and joy. You can have joy without happiness, but you will never find true happiness without joy. It’s an endless search that comes up empty every time.

Happiness is temporary and situational. Joy is permanent and constant. You can be happy today, but sad tomorrow. Joy is steady and enduring. Joy produces hope that brings long-term balance and stability. Happiness, on the other hand, produces endorphins that last for a short time in response to stress or pain. You can impact happiness with external things, such as exercise, food or personal relationships. Joy, on the other hand, is related to an inner peace and relationship with God.

The foundation of joy is built on self-esteem and self-worth, being confident in yourself and in God. Referring to the fruits of the Spirit, Paul makes a marked distinction between living in the Spirit and living in the flesh. If you read the entirety of Galatians 5, you’ll see a clear difference. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and the apparent connection to having that joy is walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh. So if your happy thermometer bounces up and down and you get pulled down regularly, perhaps it’s your joy that is lacking. Learn to walk in the spirit and not live in the flesh and watch your unspeakable joy go through the roof, even in tough times.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

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