Introduction: What is Joy?
Your bills are scattered across your bedroom table. Your work phone keeps buzzing with new notifications. Your house needs a new repair. Your kids are zapping you of energy. And you dread going to work the next day.
It is no surprise we are more stressed than ever today.
It the midst of this growing stress, culture tells us the best we can do is push on and chase the next happy moment. These happy moments are temporary reliefs from our mounting stress, and if we’re fortunate enough, they can make us forget about our stress (momentarily).
We live in a culture that loves feeling pleasant. We believe stress isn’t something we should feel, and that happiness is God’s plan for us. Right?
A few years ago, I tried to study this. At the peak of my stress, I wanted to know what God has to say about stress and happiness. I also dove into the latest discoveries in positive psychology.
What I found changed my life.
Both the Bible and positive psychology agree: escaping our stress by chasing happiness is actually the recipe for even greater stress.
Joy, I discovered, is what the Bible wants us to have.
Joy is the internal satisfaction we feel when we pursue well-being and success, even through great difficulty. It makes us feel better and more positive, but it differs from happiness in that it can be present during difficult times.
When you’re going through trials, it’s impossible to be happy. Your external circumstances won’t allow for it. But when you’re going through trials, it’s very possible to have joy. Your internal hope in God can give you the satisfaction to grow through the greatest of trials.
No one exemplifies this better than Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
Society says that to deal with stress we need to change our external circumstances for happiness.
But the Bible says, we can grow through stress, if only we cultivate joy in God. Not only does this make us feel better, but it makes us better people as well.
There’s a reason joy is a fruit of the Spirit and not happiness. God wants us to hope in Him and grow through our trials.
But the problem is, culture will do everything to convince us to run from our stress, and thereby, worsen it.
Fortunately, there is good news. The Bible paints a clear picture for how we can combat stress with daily joy.
If you are struggling under the weight of your stress, and wondering if you’ll ever feel better, this Bible plan will show you how to build a habit of daily joy to grow through your times of stress.
You can choose joy over stress. Here’s how to do it.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 ESV