If I were to ask your friends or colleagues, “What is the one thing you really want in life?” I’m sure their answers would boil down to that very popular word, happiness. Everyone wants to be happy, and alongside that we want a life free of pain and suffering.
But have you noticed that happiness is usually the result of shifting circumstances? Happiness may come when you’re promoted, when you’re in good health, or when you spend quality time with a loved one. But there’s a problem with each of these scenarios. What happens when these circumstances change? We can lose our jobs, we can lose our health, and we can lose our loved ones. When these things happen, we can also quickly lose our happiness.
What all of this means is that happiness should not be the chief end of life. Instead, what we really should be seeking is joy. In contrast to happiness, joy doesn’t depend on circumstances. Joy depends on God, and joy comes from God. Sure, happiness can be a by-product of joy; but unlike happiness, joy won’t change with your circumstances. Whether you are on the mountaintop or in the valley, whether you are experiencing abundance or loss... joy lasts.
The apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 4:12, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find that joy in your life? You can! And you only need to look in the Word of God. Take Philippians, a book of “ecstatic joy.” I count 16 different times in four chapters that the words joy or rejoice are mentioned. In chapter 1, Paul talks about the joy of suffering. In chapter 2, he talks about the joy of serving. In chapter 3, he talks about the joy of believing. And in chapter 4, Paul talks about the joy of giving. Here is a man who found joy and contentment in all circumstances!
But where does Paul find the source of his joy? The secret is in the key verse of Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” You see, true joy is found “in the Lord.” When we know Him intimately, trust Him wholeheartedly, and treasure Him above all other things, you and I will have real joy in our lives. And it won’t leave us when life gets difficult because God won’t leave us when life gets difficult.
So take hold of the wonderful, supernatural joy that God gives, and whatever your situation might be, you will find contentment. And then you will find joy! True, lasting, and unchanging joy!