Monday, October 3, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 3

Joy is a word that seems to be misunderstood in modern day time and place, one that Christians seem to feel it is their duty to define.  This has oftentimes confused me: this obsession with not confusing the word "joy" with the word "happiness."  The world is consumed with being "happy," while Christians are instead choosing to find joy in not-so-happy circumstances.  I decided to dedicate today's post to defining joy.  What exactly does that word mean?

According to, there are several definitions for the word joy.  Here are a few: 
1) the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; 
2) a source of cause of keen pleasure or delight; 
3) a state of happiness or felicity 

The definition that I find the most interesting is one that comes from the World English Dictionary: 

Joy is: a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment 

Joy evokes a sense of happiness, but is not synonymous with the word.  The definition of happy (taken from as well) is to be: "delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing."  "Joy" is considered to be a noun, while "happy" is an adjective.  Joy is a state of being; happiness is a word used to describe a particular emotion produced by certain circumstances.

Okay, so now that we've established the difference between joy and happiness, what does joy look like?  According to the last two definitions presented here, joy is something rooted deep inside a person, something that is not defined by anything swirling around in the world.  Joy is the gift God gives to make us strong, to give us peace in the midst of trials, and to cause us to turn to Him instead of to our circumstances.  Understanding the meaning of joy makes the phrase "the joy of the Lord is our strength" so much clearer.  I've never really thought about it before, but since God is without sin, He must live in a state of perfect contentment.  When He gives us a taste of His joy that stems from that perfect contentment, we in turn grow stronger.  May joy be yours today!

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