So a couple of months back, my Bible Study group at Uni embarked on a little exercise in which we all wrote encouragements for each other: words of knowledge, just some uplifting words about each other’s characters and the like.
One of the encouragements I received began with the following sentence; “Rehana, you’re such a happy person!” I have to say, this came as somewhat of a surprise to me. Not only because I think I know who wrote it, and the person in question has definitely seen the less happy side of my personality- but also because generally, I don’t think I would describe myself as ‘a happy person’.
Right; so that might have been the point where I’ve lost some of you.
The thing is; happiness and joy are very different things, and are in fact, not mutually exclusive or dependant on each other. Happiness is something that comes and goes; joy- once it’s in your heart is something you can never lose.
A very good friend of mine said something rather wise on the transitory nature of happiness (attached below), which I completely agree with. It’s okay not to feel happy all the time and to be honest, I’d be rather concerned if you were- God has given us a vast range of emotions for a reason. Life is hard and obstacles are often thrown in our way, and it is inherent in us and part of our human nature to respond to these things emotionally.
As I said before, I don’t think that you have to be happy to be filled with the Lord’s joy. However, there are other things that I do think are inherently interwoven with joy. Those things are confidence and hope. I mean these things all in the Biblical sense, rather than a worldly sense, which can be quite hard to get your head around, but when it makes sense- it is so clear. When I say confidence, I mean confidence in the gospel; confidence that the message God has given you is the best thing in the world. If we believe in this message in the same way that the prophets of the Bible did; how is it humanly possible for our hearts not to be filled with joy? If we believe that we have a God who came to Earth in human form so that he could die for us, so that we no longer have to live in sin, surely that would flood us with an overflowing sense of gratitude and joy? When I refer to hope, I am not referring to the wistful sighs that hope for a better tomorrow, but instead of the hope that we are children of God, and therefore we are preserved by His love, for His glory.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
I don’t know what you get from these verses, but I want to share what I got. Although the idea that happiness is purely temporary may seem disheartening; put that idea next to these verses. What does it matter that happiness is temporary, when everything of this Earth is? Everything we have here is nothing when compared to the glory that we will reach when we get to heaven. Joy is having the hope and confidence that what is unseen is gonna be pretty darn wonderful, and it doesn’t matter if life sucks now; because this is all just a green room, prepping us for the main event!
Happiness is temporary, because we are human. Life is tough. Oh man, sometimes it’s painfully tough; but God warns us about this (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). The glorious thing is that there is always a ‘but’! There is always a ‘however’ or ‘therefore’ or ‘nonetheless’; a clause that reminds us that God is so good, and that he is there to uphold us when all we want to do is fall to the floor.
"Do not grieve; for the joy of the Lord is your strength"- Nehemiah 8:10b
Learn to dance in the rain, embrace the storms that hit; let the water wash over you. As Taylor Swift once said; “walking through a lot of rainstorms makes you clean.” Keep walking through those rainstorms, and walk through them with God being the desire of your heart, and the place you keep your eyes fixed.