At first glance, it might appear that happiness and joy are synonymous, but our sacred texts teach us otherwise. For example, the prophet Nehemiah proclaims, “the joy of the Lord” – rather than the happiness – “is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Happiness is directly connected to what is happening around us. Happiness is fleeting, temporal. Joy, however, is everlasting. The joy that is found in God’s presence does not fade away. Happiness resides on the mountain top and rarely forsakes its inviting vista to venture into the valley. Joy, however, will travel with you through the valley of the shadow of death and stay there with you, no matter what.
Sometimes we only recognize the deeply rooted joy of the Spirit in hindsight. Thankfully, joy is not contingent upon our understanding. In fact, joy has very little to do with us. St. Paul explains that joy is a fruit of the spirit. It is God’s gift to us.
This message is excerpted from “Midnight Joy” by Angela Khabeb in the November 2019 Gather magazine.
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