Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Am I joyful or happy?

I've been doing some reflecting lately. This week in Lilly's character development part of her curriculum I am supposed to be teaching her about joyfulness. Her curriculum defines it as "Providing brightness in the lives of others regardless of outward circumstances". And of course, they say the best way to teach this to your child is by example.....uh oh. So the past couple days I've been thinking about if I am truly joyful or not. Then I remembered that in my last issue of Keepers at Home (a wonderful, God-centered magazine for stay at home moms) one of the editors was talking about the difference between joy and happiness. Since she put it so much better than I can I'll just write an excerpt:

"I thought about two kinds of joy. Inward joy and happiness. We should feast on God's Word every morning, praying for the Holy Spirit to keep us filled, so living water may flow from us.
Inward joy comes from knowing and trusting God. Happiness is totally unpredictable. Inward joy gains victory over discouragement. Happiness usually just covers it up.
Inward joy is everlasting. Happiness is only a temporary feeling. The secret for a close, Spirit-filled relationship with God is to pray to Him earnestly, reverently each morning and continuously throughout the day. As Christians we need to strive at being more tolerant of people, but less tolerant of sin."

I had to think about how I've been lately. Honestly, Montezuma isn't my favorite place to live. And so I think I've been really lacking in the joy department lately. I've been looking for happiness but ignoring the joy I should be finding in Christ. But my realization of this was a great opportunity for me to confess this to Lilly, in 4 year old terms, of course. I don't want her growing up with this false perception that as Christians we never fail. As we were going over her schoolwork we kept going over verses that talked about joy, which drove the point home even harder!

"The joy of the Lord is your strength." ~ Neh. 8:10

"But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee." Psalm 5:11

"Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD." 1 Chor. 16:10

Not to mention it's a fruit of the Spirit. So, anyway, that's what has been on my heart the past couple days. Can I say that I truly have joy? I'm not quite sure about that yet. But I'm thankful that the Lord has pointed this out to me. My joy needs to come from Him and not from my outward circumstances. I need to be joyful (in Him) even if we lack food, shelter, clothing, etc. Thanks for reading! What about you? Are you joyful or happy??

Running the race,


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