What is the difference between happiness and joy? Have you noticed that happiness is not listed as a fruit of the Spirit, yet joy is? I decided to research the difference between happiness and joy. I found several web sites and definitions that distinguished between them. One of the web sites said that both happiness and joy are emotions, but happiness is based in earthly experiences while joy is based on spiritual experiences.* Many of the writers I consulted believe that there is a difference between happiness and joy, but they didn’t always agree on what the difference was. J.D. Salinger wrote “The fact is always obvious much too late, but the most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid.”*
Well, that helps! I do know that joy is not tied to our day-to-day experience. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Paul said the Thessalonians, “welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” This was “in spite of severe suffering.” (NIV)
So clearly, joy comes from the Holy Spirit, even in the midst of severe suffering. There might be a bit of truth in the idea that happiness is determined more by external factors and joy by internal factors.
So if you are having a bad day, or a bad week, or a bad year – don’t focus on the externals. Let God’s Spirit produce joy in you in spite of what you experience.
*”Happiness vs Joy.” Diffen.com, April 26, 2021, https://www.diffen.com/difference/Happiness_vs_Joy
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