HAPPINESS OR JOY?
Life is too serious and time is too short to waste either on frivolity. Life equals time and they are inseparable. Squander neither!
If you wait until a crisis comes to muster perseverance, it will be too late. You must build character now, for it is a lengthy process not endowed in an instant.
Nothing within the pages of Scripture gives any assurance that life will be fun. God grants us joy, His inner elation with and of Himself, not happiness dependent on life circumstances.
As for life, He promises lovers of Himself hardship, persecution, misunderstanding and conflict, even death. His joy will sustain us in those difficulties, but certainly none of them generates happiness.
We can be happy in our job, our marriage, our life's calling, even in Christian endeavors and practices, but that happiness must not be mistaken for joy nor can it be a substitute for it. Happiness is capricious and perishable; joy cannot be taken from us and is everlasting in source and substance.
Joy is dependent on our oneness with God; happiness can well distract us away from Him. God's blessings on us physically and emotionally can fasten our attention on them so subtly that we forget God or relegate Him to second place or even lower. Happiness is dangerous and must be managed with an eye to our controlling it, not its ruling us and our priorities.
Deuteronomy 8:11-14 warns of that possibility:
11 Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;
12 otherwise when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them,
13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies,
14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
God cautioned the children of Israel about the dangers of His goodness before they went into Canaan, the promised land flowing with milk and honey. Yet once there, they still fell prey to all God identified as the happiness brought by His blessings on them.
So deceitful is the power of happiness that we drift slowly and, to ourselves, unobtrusively until our love for pleasure and comfort chills our love for God, even if we're still going through the motions. Jesus warned the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5:
4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp stand out of its place---unless you repent.
The very source(s) of our happiness can turn into idols that become our gods. It is possible to maintain an outward form of worship or Christian practice that appears to be Biblically sound, while mixing it with idolatry, exactly what both Israel and the Ephesians did. The combination is a stench in the nostrils of God! Those who follow this path are:
"holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power" II Timothy 3:5.
The only way to maintain joy and not let happiness (prosperity in any form) become our god is to submit to the power of God's Holy Spirit and who He is: fear God with awe and love Him dearly. Be so dead to yourself and your enjoyment that things, stuff, plenty--have no hold on or appeal to you except as God lets you use them for a season. Hold to life lightly. It is fleeting.
Instead, lay up treasures in heaven where they cannot be corrupted and will last forever. God grant you understanding in this matter.