Dr. Dan Hayden •
It’s better to be joyful than it is to be happy. Let me tell you what I mean.
Our word for today is “joy.” Along with love and peace, one of the great qualities of life offered to the people of God is the quality of joy. So what is joy, and how does it differ from happiness? Well, let me answer that question by showing you what it was in the life of Jesus.
The writer to the Hebrews put it this way in Hebrews 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Now we might expect this word “joy” to appear in fun places and in pleasant circumstances, right? But did you notice the word “joy” here is used in a context of suffering and difficulty? For instance, what was the “joy” Jesus was experiencing in this verse? Well, it wasn’t the cross and the shame— that was simply the painful process. The consequence was what He was joyful about. It says, He “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” That was the place of victory, and the anticipation of that, was what gave Him joy (like an athlete enduring the hardship of conditioning, and practice, and conflict in the game, for the joyful anticipation of emerging victorious and receiving the trophy). The joy of The Lord is like that. Joy focuses on the victory we have in Christ.
Always remember that it’s better to be joyful than happy!