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Joy or Happiness?

“Though the fig tree does not bud

    and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

    and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

    and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

    he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

Somber and sober words from one of the last prophets: Habakkuk. He knew that the “end” of the nation of Israel was at hand, but in the middle of that ruination, he was looking to his Savior, not the inevitable tragedy, or the annihilation of all of all those things he loved. His joy, in the midst of the oncoming destruction of his beloved nation, was God, and he was full of joy (joyful) at the thought of his Redeemer.

We’re not the first people to have troubles and we won’t be the last. It’s been said that if you want to be happy, get a bottle at the local liquor store and happiness will come quite easily; others find it by gorging themselves on some other appetite of the body. But joy is not happiness. “Joy is caused by elation at a moment in time. Joy may not always be about oneself but be about others' contentment also. Happiness is about the self's pleasure. Happiness dwells on materialistic, worldly pleasures while joy is derived from soul satisfying, emotional well being.” And for the follower of Jesus, the source of joy is Jesus Himself.

My joy comes from abiding in Him—it is the by-product of staying with Him and not seeking any other source for purpose or peace. It happens when I reflect on Him and find myself quite naturally looking for Him in all of life’s happenings. Dwelling upon Him and training my mind upon Him and His kingdom, and then trusting Him to fill in all the rest, creates a peace and joy that confounds the world.

Yes, I do sometimes allow the emails, phone calls, family matters and petty squabbles to sometimes get my eyes off the goal (Jesus Himself), but praise be to God!, He does not get His eyes off of me! Oh that as a father, pastor, friend and an employer I could be known by the manner in which I become a small source of joy for those that look to me!

Lord help me to find the joy of keeping my eyes upon you and establish in my heart that sublime joy of helping others find contentment in you.

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