Join me in this 30-day June scripture writing Bible verse study on joy and how it relates to our circumstances.
What is the Difference Between Joy and Happiness?
I used to think that joy was synonymous with happiness. But when you find the word joy in the Bible, it doesn’t make sense when you replace it with the word happy. For example, this Bible verse in James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy [happiness] my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”.
Does this mean we’re supposed to be happy about our suffering? The way I understand it now is that happiness is circumstantial, joy is not. To have happiness is to trust in worldly things. Happiness is fleeting; anything can take it away in an instant. You could have a great marriage, but one fight may make you feel your marriage is miserable. You could have a successful day at work and get in a car wreck on the way home and feel like life is out to get you.
Joy, on the other hand, is not circumstantial. It is based on your faith and hope. It’s the foundation of everything you believe to be good and true. Therefore if you believe that God is good all the time, then no matter how your day goes, you still believe in God’s goodness.
Without Hope There is No Joy
Many of you know my story of Lyme disease. There was a point in my journey when I began to question everything I’d ever believed in. I had never doubted that God was real or that God was good, but terrible things were happening to me day after day and I began to wonder about these two simple truths. The only thing that made sense to me then was this:
- God is real = He doesn’t care
- God is good = He’s allowing this to happen = God is bad = He isn’t real
It was a dark time in my life. I couldn’t comprehend God’s goodness if he would allow this suffering to continue day after day, year after year. For a moment I decided it was easier to believe that God wasn’t real than God not caring about me. But if God didn’t care about me, it went deeper into everything else I believed–the truth that Jesus died for me because he loved me.
I was so immature in my knowledge of God at that moment.
Digging Deeper Into Those Truths
James 1:2 is not talking to us about sucking it up and slapping a smile on our faces, but a true inner trust and peace in the Lord that gives you hope even in the darkest times. The joy the Bible teaches us about is spiritual–it is not worldly. You cannot access this joy through acting tough and brushing things off, it’s a supernatural joy; a peace that only God can provide.
If you go back and read the next verses, James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
What would my life look like if I had never decided to persevere through those trials? To become bitter and angry for the rest of my life? What would have happened to my family if I had chosen to give up? As I began to persevere, I came to learn a few insights about these two simple truths I had grown up believing:
- God is good = Even when I feel [insert emotion] = I choose to trust that his plans are great!
- God is real = And he cares deeply about me = Our spiritual growth always trumps physical wellness = He is using me in this if I will let him!
June Bible Verses About Joy
This month, I want you to learn more about what the Bible has to teach us about joy. When does God ask us to find joy? Is it when things are easy? How can we practice joyful living? Who praises God and finds joy in him? Don’t just write down these verses, read the ones around them to get some context. Write down your questions and look for some answers throughout the month. What in your life is stealing your joy? Let’s study what the Bible has to say about it.
The directions are simple:
- Print the scripture page and make copies of the journaling pages.
- Write a scripture each day in the space on the left and reflect on it in the space on the right.
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Additionally, you can read more Bible study posts here:
- April: Guarding Your Heart
- May: The Power of Our Words
- March: Bible Study on Jesus’ Ministry
- 5 Styles of Note-Taking You Can Apply to Your Bible Study
- Choosing a Bible That’s Right For You
You’ve got this!
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