A common teaching among Christians for the last 100 years has been that happiness and joy are not the same thing. On the one hand, happiness is fleeting and circumstantial, while joy has its roots in something more substantial. Happiness is a fun, bouncy feeling that comes and goes based upon one’s circumstances. However, joy is an inner quality of delight in God that springs up within the Christian regardless of the adversities or circumstances of life.
But are these distinctions true? Does scriptural evidence support such an understanding? I have come to believe that the Bible does not support such a separation, and that it adversely affects our communication of the gospel as a message that doesn’t really meet the deepest longings of our heart.
Randy Alcorn’s book Happiness has done much to help me eliminate the competition often presented between joy and happiness. I would recommend his book as a “must read.” I took six months in 2020 to work through the 450 pages and extensive footnotes. It was worth every effort as Alcorn made his case that joy and happiness are in fact synonyms and used together in Scripture to describe the same experience. My purpose in this post is to share a few thoughts I hope will help recover what it means to be happy in Christ. (more…)