“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you.” Nathaniel Hawthorne
What makes you happy? Is it being healthy, wealthy and wise?
What would make you happy? Winning the lottery? Going on a dream vacation? Finding your special mate?
In everyday conversation, we interchange the words happiness and joy; often using one to describe the other. What is happiness – it’s being joyful. What is joy – being happy. But in reality, there is a fundamental difference being the two – one that can make all the difference!
Happiness comes to us when everything works out great. It is when the weather for your picnic is beautiful. It is when your bank balance is positive and so is your attitude. It is when you wouldn’t change a thing. Happy comes from the same root as haphazard or hap-in-stance. Happiness depends on everything falling into place, everything working out.
How often does that happen?
The Bible states, “in this world we will have troubles” (John 16:33). Truer words have never been spoken. We might desire wealth, but we are often short at the end of the month, counting our nickels. We might want health, but we often are suffering from aches and pains. Happiness is hard to find in a world that seems to knock us down, and, at times, seems to kick us while we are on the ground.
Our residents and clients also have a hard time finding happiness. It is the elusive butterfly that always seems just out of reach. In desperation, some turn to various addictions to dull their pain. Sometimes completely giving up the search for happiness, retreating into depression or loneliness. We all seem to be haunted by the question, ‘Will I ever be happy?’
Joy is significantly different than happiness because it is not based on things working out, but rather on a relationship.
“The Joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Joy is an abiding peace of mind and heart, regardless of our circumstances. It is not based on everything working out right, but is based on the fact that God is with us in our troubles. “Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39).
When things are going great, when things are going wrong, God is with us. When we are celebrating with others, or when we are drowning in loneliness, it doesn’t change the fact that God is present. His grace and strength, and His love are always with us.
We can help bring joy to our clients by being present and supportive. We can be a place of predictable caring and comfort. We can also exude joy in everything we do, if this God-given joy is part of our lives and hearts. As Mother Teresa said, “If you are joyful, it will shine in your eyes and in your look, in your conversation and in your countenance. You will not be able to hide it because joy overflows.”
Let joy overflow, as we strive to be “The Hand of God, in the Heart of the City.”
Major David Oldford
Director of Spiritual Care
Lord, make us daily aware of your presence,
your love and your support.
This awareness will lead to a joyful heart,
despite our situations.
Help us to share this joy with those we come into contact with so “That the God of Hope may fill us with Joy and Peace in Believing!” (Romans 15:13)