For much of my spiritual life I've known the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on our circumstances and so is ever changing. Joy is a part of the fruit of the spirit and a gift to all believers which never changes. I think I've heard this so much I've almost over spiritualized it. It's almost as if we believe that happiness is wrong sometimes or that longing for happiness is wrong cause we have the joy of the Lord so that is all we need. It's not that I disagree with the definitions of the two words, but at least in my life, without saying so I've come to almost villify happiness.
I've been working through the Beth Moore study on Esther and last week we spent a day looking at the happiness experienced by the Jews when they heard Mordecai's new declaration in Chapter 8. Beth Moore asserted a new definition for happiness- well not really new, but expanded. You see, happiness is certainly based on circumstances. But she asserted that happiness is really "God intervening in our circumstances so that we FEEL as blessed as we know we are."
That really struck a cord with me. What a perfect definition! That's exactly it. There are just some days that although I know I am blessed (all I have to do is look at the three sweet faces runing around my house each day), I don't always feel blessed. Maybe I've had a rough day or maybe the weather is rainy again or maybe the boys are very fussy, but for whatever reason, I just don't feel it. And then, God intervenes in my circumstances- the clouds clear and the sun comes out so we head to the park and suddenly I feel happy. The boys wake up from their naps in a great mood and laugh and play together sweetly and I feel happy.
And what I realized is that sometimes this can be day to day, even moment to moment. And other times it can be season to season. I think for all of us, there will be seasons in our lives when happiness is non-existent. Seasons of pain, or sickness, or lonliness. Seasons when we know God is good, we know we are blessed, we still have the joy of our salavation, but we don't feel it. For me, that was one year ago. I've blogged about it before, but for several months a year ago I had a season of pain, one filled with persecution and rejection. I never stopped being blessed- I had two beautiful, healthy boys, a home, a husband, a precious Savior- it's just that the pain of that time was stronger than any other feelings I may have had and so I just didn't feel blessed- happy.
As I contemplated this last week in my study, God brought to mind exactly how He intervened in my circumstances so that I might feel blessed. In the midst of that season, God blessed my womb. Josiah was conceived last December and he was a little bit of a surprise to us. My pregnancy with Josiah happened much, much more quickly than with Caleb and Noah and so we weren't expecting to get pregnant until closer to May. But now I realize Josiah was God's gift of happiness to me. He intervened in my circumstances at the perfect time and as this little life grew inside of me, I couldn't help but to feel blessed!
And we named him Josiah because we loved the story of King Josiah in 2 Kings. But I learned today that in Hebrew, Josiah means God has healed or God has delivered. It makes me want to shout with praise to Him! Do you see it? God gave me a precious baby and in doing so began to heal my hurting heart, and deliver me from pain into happiness. And then we named him Josiah- God heals!
So today, praise God for the gift of happiness in your life. It is no less of a gift from God than joy is. Joy is everlasting, yes, and happiness changes within our circumstances, yes, but it is GOD who intervenes in our circumstances to give us the gift of happiness! Don't feel less spiritual because you are happy right now! Thank Him for making your circumstances ones that make you feel happy!
And maybe you don't feel very happy. Are you going through a moment or day or season when you just don't feel as blessed as you know you really are? Pray right now for God to intervene in your circumstances and give you that gift. But you better be looking for it- it may be something small like the sunshine or a dandelion from your 3 year old or a piece of good chocolate and it may be something big like a child or spouse- but recognize it for what it is- God's intervening for you!! Then PRAISE HIM! What a good and loving God we serve who gives us not only joy everlasting but intervenes for us so that we feel that way too!