There are approximately 214 uses of the word joy in the Bible. Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words happy and happiness about 30 times, while joy and rejoice appear over 300 times. I recently asked a friend what does she do to feed her soul; what brings her joy? My friend mentioned going hiking in the woods or curling up in a hammock to read her Bible. I began to think about my own spiritual journey. What do I do to feed my soul? I would have to say my list would be similar. I find joy in a sunrise run, curling up with a good book in a quiet place, playing board games with my kids. Those are exactly the type of things that recharge my batteries when I am feeling stressed or overtaxed. Is there a difference between happiness and joy? Some would say yes, as happiness can be momentary, whereas joy is a more innate and long-term feeling.
"Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice." Psalm 105:3 (NIV)
I rejoice in the Lord when I run into the sunrise on a 60 degree summer morning, and glory in His creation as I listen to the sounds of the birds and see rays of sunshine streak through the first pink clouds of dawn. Do these moments make me temporarily happy? Yes. So how do I differentiate between happiness in the moment and soul-fulfilling joy? For me, that question is answered in the following scripture.
"May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. I find temporary happiness in what make me happy." Psalm 104:34 (NIV)
I know that sounds a bit repetitive, but it’s true all the same. A warm chocolate brownie can make me happy in the moment that I eat it. Does it feed my soul? I doubt my meditation over the gooey goodness of melting chocolate would be considered pleasing to God, just pleasing to me! However, if the situation were different, say I make warm chocolate brownies for the stressed out new neighbor in my sub, and walk them over on moving day. I feel lasting joy in giving them a moment of respite and letting them know God asked me to bless them today. The joy found in serving someone else, giving credit to God, not taking credit myself, is innate. I also feel those sunrise runs spent with God are pleasing to him as well. Why? Because when we are hustling through our busy days, running kids to school or lessons, or sports practice. Skipping lunch at work for this meeting or that project, we aren’t taking time to be quiet and seek God. I’m much more likely to have a daily conversation with Jesus while I’m in the shower on some days, than I am to find a quiet 15 minutes to reflect over a daily devotion. However, when I can squeeze in a 30 minute (or 2 hour) run when the rest of the world is still asleep, I know he is pleased with me. I can feel it in every inhale and exhale, a peace with my Father in Heaven. That peace when there are no cars yet on the roads, and the only sounds are the birds, the cows, my breath, my shoes reverberating on gravel or pavement, and my conversations with God in my head. Do you know what I mean? That is joy. That feeds my soul.
What feeds yours?
Tonya Jacobs | Executive Administrator