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Weekly Devotional: The Difference Between Happiness and Joy

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By Ally Richmond
Professional Writing Major, Honors College

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” – 1 Peter 1:8

We often use the terms “happiness” and “joy” interchangeably, but are they really the same thing?

Happiness and joy are seemingly similar, but actually quite different. The key point being that God promises joy, but He never promises us happiness.

Being happy is an emotion, just like sadness or jealousy or fear. It is fleeting. You might be happy about something, but you are not going to be continually happy forever. Happiness is great, but we can get happiness from a lot of things, even earthly things.

Joy, on the other hand, is a long-lasting state of being. Joy is promised by God and something we should strive towards. In Hebrews 12:2 it states, “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We can have joy in the eternal life that awaits us after death. The constant knowledge of our salvation and God’s love for us will undoubtedly give us joy, even if our present circumstances aren’t ideal or we aren’t presently “happy.”

There is so much joy ahead for us. In Romans 14:17, it states, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

We know there will be joy in heaven, so we can have joy now in our expectant waiting. God promises us joy when He promises salvation. When we keep this truth in the forefront of our minds, we can find peace and joy even in our earthly suffering.

In Psalm 16:11, the psalmist writes, “You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”

Once again, God gives us joy, even if we are not happy. We do not have to smile all the time. We are not promised sunshine and rainbows in this life, but we are promised salvation and eternal life, which is cause for great joy even in the midst of pain and unhappiness.

Grand Canyon University seeks to trust in the promises of God. If you would like to learn more about the Christian identity and heritage of GCU or would like to read more devotionals please visit our website and check out the GCU Blog.

About Allison Richmond
Professional Writing Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Allison Richmond is an Arizona native and a junior at Grand Canyon University. She is currently earning her Bachelor of Science in English with an Emphasis in Professional Writing with a minor in marketing. She hopes to use her degree to pursue a career in journalism or advertising in order to share her ideas and creativity with the world. Allison has a passion for writing. She has gotten the opportunity to pursue this passion through writing for Odyssey Online, working on writing research with her professor and writing for the GCU blogs. When she is not writing, Allison enjoys reading, traveling, baking and spending time with her friends. 

Read more about Allison