It’s 1998. Since I’m seven now. My parents are letting me wear glitter eyeshadow. It looks perfect with my Dr. Pepper lip gloss. My favorite singer is Britney Spears, and my favorite movie is “Titanic.” I got a Furby for Christmas and my brother got a Gameboy Color. He lets me use it sometimes. Life is good.
I would love to take a trip back to the 90’s right now. For my greatest worries to be my stance on if Pokemon is cool or not, the rope climb in P.E., and my crush on my older brother’s best friend. *Looking at you, Brett Hamilton.*
I loved the days of second grade, but simple were the things that made me happy, so simple were the foundations they were built upon.
Since 1998, glitter eyeshadow has come and gone, Furby’s became the world's creepiest toy, Britney Spears shaved her head, and my then-worst-fear was realized: I never made it to the top of the rope climb.
Like everyone, the older I grew, the more insecurities surfaced. Braces certainly didn’t help that, along with the accompanied new acne. Soon after, I developed a need for glasses. This was not the “triple threat” I was going for.
Bigger problems arose as I entered High School. My first family member passed away. Close relatives struggled with addictions. I myself landed on anorexia as my vice. Depression set in. Anxiety took over. Grief welled inside of me.
But, I got the lead in the school musical, had fifteen best friends, was on student council, honor roll, and the homecoming court. I had plenty to be happy about!
“Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” Proverbs 14:13
My happiness, though a good thing, didn’t take my problems away. Happiness was just added to the mixture of my life. When everything settled, the grief was still there.
In college I found a new kind of happiness that changed everything.
I met some upperclassmen who also had worries, hurts, and disappointments, but they didn’t respond the way I did. They had an unwavering kind of happiness that didn’t get knocked down after every bad test grade, unsettling phone call, or breakup.
What they had was joy.
Happiness and joy are often found together in the Bible. Though distinguished as different from one another, they’re both a gift from God. Jeremiah 31:13 says “I will turn their mourning into joy . . . and bring happiness out of grief.”
Happiness comes from temporary earthly blessings. Joy is an eternal heavenly blessing felt on earth.
Jesus addresses this in John 16. He’s preparing the disciples for His death and says in verse 22, “…you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we can have a joy that cannot be robbed, squashed, or swayed.
This means, joy is for the follower of Christ. The individual who has handed Jesus their hard earned collection of happiness as well as their garbage bag of problems and said, “I trust these to you.” It doesn’t matter what temporary happiness or problems come later because eternal forgiveness and a relationship with the Creator of the universe dwarfs any high and every low that could be experienced on earth.
That kind of foundation in your heart and mind is not simple. It does not falter to circumstance. It is everlasting.
With happiness, we receive good earthly gifts that are meant to fade.
Here are three eternal things we can experience on earth because of joy:
We gain an anchor to the ever changing winds of life. The anchor is trusting the good news of who God is and who He’s made you to be in Him.
We’re able to view happiness as a temporary blessing and not use it as a crutch, nor fear when it fades. Without knowing Jesus, happiness was a crutch for me. Since knowing Jesus, I don’t have to cling to what makes me happy to make me stable.
God leads us through inevitable hardship with hope on the horizon. I still struggle with anxiety and depression today, but even through my darkest seasons, my joy has remained.
We are never going to receive lasting joy as long as we settle for temporary happiness on its own.
Put down the Gameboy and the Dr Pepper lip gloss.
Pursue Joy. Pursue Jesus.
Discuss these questions with a friend or spiritual leader to help apply today's reading:
How do you view happiness? A blessing from God that will fade? Or a crutch to cling to?
Have you ever felt eternal Joy? If so, how are you interacting with it daily?
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