Happiness Isn’t Joy

My heart may ache from loss, but my joy will remain.

My happiness is not here

And my pulse pounds with disdain.

My sins forgiven; I have nothing to fear.

I’ll see my Pops again in Heaven on high.

I have real JOY in knowing God doesn’t lie. (Henderson, 2019)

We as believers know that Jesus’ birth was the beginning of great joy for the salvation of the world (Luke 2:10). We can also agree that our sinful nature’s passions and desires were crucified with Jesus on the cross. And lastly, we know that the Holy Spirit produces the following fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-24).

Notice that Scripture doesn’t say happiness is produced, given, nor promised, but joy is. On Monday, I defined happiness as the state of being happy, feeling or showing great pleasure or contentment and joy as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. You can have joy and not be happy and vice versa. When we make peace with who we are internally, we feel joy. When we are happy, it comes from external circumstances or a trigger of some sort, like gifts, material things, or flattery. Because we are flesh driven human beings, our external circumstances tend to dictate what we feel.

When we search for the word joy, there are many references in Scripture that come up. When seeking verses on joy, I find that many people like to gravitate to the book of Psalms. Others identify with the books of James, Galatians, Luke, John, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and/or Philippians. Joy is easy to find all throughout Scripture.

We know the story of Daniel in the lions’ den, but I want to go back before this, when he is captured and imprisoned in the land of Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar. During this time, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered his chief of staff, Ashpenaz, to bring to the palace some of the captured young men of Judah’s royal families. He wanted those who were well learned, knowledgeable, and suited to serve in the palace. He gave instructions for them to be taught Babylonian language and literature. They were to be given food and wine from the king’s kitchen and trained for three years. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were chosen (Daniel 1:1-6).

The four were renamed by the chief of staff with the following Babylonian names:

  • Daniel – Belteshazzar
  • Hananiah – Shadrach
  • Mishael – Meshach
  • Azariah – Abednego

Now, we all know that Daniel at this point convinces the chief of staff to allow them to eat only vegetables and water so as not to defile their bodies with the king’s food. We also read that God gave them an “unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom” (Daniel 1:17 NLT). Notice that their circumstances as captives are not particularly happy, but they have a foundational relationship with God to hold on to.

Later, King Nebuchadnezzar placed a gold statue, ninety feet tall and nine feet wide, in Babylon and had all his high officers, officials, governors, advisers as well as others in his cabinet come for a statue dedication. With all the fanfare he could muster, the king commanded that when they heard music of any type, they were to bow down and worship his golden statue or risk being thrown into a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-6).

Scripture says that when the music sounded all the people bowed (Daniel 3:7). As we dig further, we see that just like the serpent in the garden, some astrologers went to the king to cause trouble for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1:8-13).

I pause here because I am not sure where Daniel is during this time frame. Google speculates that he wasn’t present, possibly away on business.

After hearing the astrologers’ report, to put it mildly, the king was not happy. He ordered that the three be brought to him. When confronted by the king, he attempts to give them another chance to bow down to his gods and the golden idol (Daniel 3:13-15).

Here is where I find the pure joy of God! Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have a foundational relationship with God! They know internal peace! They have made peace with who, why, and how they are!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 NLT

Nebuchadnezzar was so furious; his face became distorted. He had the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. He commanded the strongest soldiers in his army to bind the three and throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace fully clothed. However, the furnace was so hot that the soldiers were killed by the flames of the furnace as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the furnace (Daniel 3:19-23).

Then something amazing happens!

The king jumps up hastily, asking his advisors if they put only three men into the furnace. They confirmed it was only three, but Nebuchadnezzar saw four unbound men walking around in the fire unharmed. And the fourth looked like a god! Getting as close as he could, the king shouted for the three to come out. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged, they were unharmed, unbound, and not a single hair was singed. They didn’t even smell like smoke (Daniel 3:24-27)!

Do any of us have the kind of joy these three had? The kind of joy in which we know that God is with us regardless of the outcomes of our situations. The internal peace of knowing who, what, or how we are in God? I believe, it starts with a firm foundation and daily practice of getting into The Word.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we bow only to You. We accept the joy You produce in us. The joy that surpasses all understanding. The joy that gives us internal peace in knowing who, what, and how we are in You. Thank you for allowing us to come in Your presence not hindered by our circumstances. Heal the broken hearts this season and replace the hurt with Your love, peace, and JOY. In the precious name of Jesus, amen!

Written by Melony Henderson

Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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