Joy is one of the common topics used by the apostles to encourage believers in their walk with God. Most of the time, the words Joy and Happiness are interchanged or known to be the same, but they are not! The difference between Joy and Happiness is that Happiness is just an emotion, which means it is unstable and dictated by circumstances. You may be happy right now, but in a few hours, you may become sad or angry when you realize someone accidentally bumped your car. However, Joy is not like that, as it is not dependent on your current circumstances, nor is it something unstable. Joy is something like delighting in someone or something; of course, it is something positive, but it is also something that is constant. You can be joyful in your entire life without a single moment of not being joyful.
To expound further, the context in James 1:2-3 is one of the best ways to define what Joy is. The Apostle James was writing to Christians who were facing challenges, or what he calls “trials,” in their Christian walk. Of course, no one would want to have challenges or trials in their life, right? There is no one who would ask eagerly for more trials to come into their life. What James actually said was kind of strange, as he said, “Count it all joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Not just one trial, but many trials, and these are apparently trials of many kinds. It’s strange to be joyful to face trials, but perhaps not. Our joy is not like Happiness, which is based on hype. Our joy is hinged on someone, and that is Jesus, which is why the Apostles always encouraged believers to stand firm in the faith and hold fast to Him. Also, one can be joyful despite the trials or problems one may face if they delight in the Lord. The joy that the New Testament tells of is not a joy based on worldly things or temporal things. As we delight ourselves in Jesus, having Him in our lives is already satisfactory for us, so that despite whatever life may bring, we will still be joyful because we have Jesus in us.
It is what encouraged the early church members in their walk with God. During their time, if you were a Christian, people would try to kill you. The persecution towards Christians at that time was so rapid that you would see Christians being nailed to posts to instill fear in other Christians. It is probably the kind of life one wouldn’t want to live. Yet despite their circumstances, the Apostles encouraged believers to stand firm in their faith and persevere. They still had joy in their lives because they knew they had Jesus in their lives. The fact that there was a reward in heaven waiting for them when all things were said and done also gave them Joy. Joy is hinged on someone who is and will always be unchanging—God. What trials are you going through right now? Remember that you can still have joy despite your trials because you have Jesus!