Joy & HappinessĀ 

  

I’ve often been told by visiting my friends or family members that I always look happy. They have known and seen my painful struggle with hardships in finances, divorce, betrayal and loss but still I always appear cheerfully encouraged. 
I tell them I found joy in my heart. That’s the part they don’t understand most. How do you get joy in your heart when you go through hard times? 
I thought that is very a good question. 
Is there a difference between Joy and Happiness?
 As I prayed to Holy Spirit to orchestrate my thoughts, I was led to:
 “Joy of the Lord is your strength” 
        -Nehemiah 12:42-43.
This means God strengthens us spiritually in the midst of suffering with the joy given only by the Holy Spirit.  
In my opinion Happiness is a decision or a perspective. It is unrelated to my circumstances. Happiness, like most things, is dependent on our relationship with God who is unwavering and eternal. We don’t base our life on circumstances, but on God. 
My example was my mission trip. In Guatemala, I visited children who have very little or nothing yet were happy.  Food, shelter and safety is all they needed. 
Happiness is unrelated to stuff. 
True joy however is far deeper than happiness. We can feel the joy in spite of our deepest troubles. Happiness is temporary because it is based on external circumstance, but joy is lasting because it is based on God’s presence. 
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5
And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His Salvation.” Psalm 35:9
I read a devotional article “Choose Joy: Because happiness is not Enough”,  by Karen Warren co-founder of SaddleBack Church with her husband Rick Warren in Lake Forest, California. 
She wrote; “the meaning of Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of your life. the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” 
My conclusion to the question on Joy and Happiness is, yes; I’m happy because I choose to be happy, knowing God is with me every step of the way.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will set your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-7
This is where I find my joy; Knowing a deeper truth that He is in control no matter what my circumstances are and I trust hope and love deeply in Him. ~ Angela Lipe-Pattengill