Happy vs Joy

I was asked what the difference was between happiness and joy. “Does God really want us to be happy? Is that theologically correct?”

These are good questions. I am no theologian. I’d like to be one but I have no delusions at present. What I’ve always heard preachers say is that happiness is only present in the midst of happenings but that joy can be ever-present regardless of your situation.

Looking at scripture, you never see Jesus saying anything about happiness in the Gospels, and Psalms 10:6 talks about the wicked man in his arrogance saying to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I will always be happy and never have trouble.”

Proverbs talks about happiness – that it cheers up the face. James says, you should sing praises if you are happy. But happiness is not discussed by Jesus, so far as I can tell. So is it theologically correct to say, “God wants me to be happy”?

The definition of happiness is:

1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

The definition of joy is:

1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation
2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated
3. the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.
4. a state of happiness or felicity.

verb (used without object)
5. to feel joy; be glad; rejoice.

They seem to be a bit interchangeable. One thing is for sure, joy is discussed more often than happiness in scripture. Is that a coincidence?

My personal opinion, for what it’s worth:

You can’t be sad and happy at the same time. But you can have sadness and joy in your life at the same time. A joy, a peace, a feeling of warmth, that no earthy situation can squelch. The joy of the Lord. Even when all seems lost, joy can usher in the hope that sadness attempts to destroy.



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