I looked around at dozens of eager little faces gazing at me expectantly, Junior School pupils settling down on the floor as early morning assembly got underway. That week they were exploring the theme ‘Happiness’ and as a Sunday School teacher I had been invited along to share my view. They had already had talks from a policeman and a postman, with more to come. So what did happiness mean to me?
“Happiness is that bubbly feeling we get inside when something nice happens,” I began, explaining how the two words are connected. I produced a colourful pot of liquid and to everyone’s delight began to blow dancing bubbles over their heads, showing how nothing happened to the mixture in the tub until I blew through the bubble wand. Happiness depends on happenings!
Sometimes we get that ‘bubbly’ feeling when nothing has happened; this is called ‘joy’. The greatest source of joy is, or course, Yahshua. When we live our lives in Him, we harvest an abundance of joy every day. The apostle Paul describes the Kingdom of Heaven as “…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” [Romans 14:17]. Joy can manifest as a deep sense of contentment, which is present regardless of the circumstances. Yahshua demonstrated this inner joy even when heading for Calvary. We read that “…for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame…” [Hebrews 12:2].
The US Declaration of Independence describes ‘the pursuit of happiness’ as one of the inalienable rights granted to humanity by Yahweh. It is true happiness must be pursued, since it fades when the ‘happening’ that provoked it fades. A wise man noted that Yahweh “…gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight” [Ecclesiastes 2:26]. Joy is not dependent upon ‘happenings’ but grows from our behaviour and reflects the Presence of Yahweh in our lives [Psalm 16:11]. It is also one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Joy is an everlasting quality. We may have it now and will take it with us into eternity. It is the particular reward of the redeemed [Isaiah 51:11].