By Joni Eareckson Tada
“But may the righteous be glad and REJOICE before God;
may they be HAPPY and JOYFUL.”
We’re often taught to be careful of the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness, it is said, is an emotion that depends upon what ‘happens.’ Joy by contrast, is supposed to be enduring, stemming deep from within our soul and which is not affected by the circumstances surrounding us.
It’s an appropriate linguistic distinction, I suppose. But I don’t think God had any such hair-splitting in mind. Scripture uses the terms interchangeably along with words like delight, gladness, blessed. There is no scale of relative spiritual values applied to any of these. Happiness is not relegated to fleshly-minded sinners nor joy to heaven-bound saints.
The terms are synonymous in their effect and too difficult to distinguish when we experience either one. Would you, for example, respond to…
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