Joy and happiness - what's the difference?

Recently, my pastor said something that gave me pause for thought. He said that there is a difference between being happy and having joy, and, also, that it is joy that makes the true impact in a person’s life.


Now, I’m pretty sure that I am not alone when I say that until that very moment I had always thought that joy and happiness were one in the same.

According to Pastor Hardie Davis of Abundant Life Worship Center, one’s happiness is directly tied to the events that happen in one’s life.

I have always thought the word “joy” was a bit confusing but I pretty much thought it meant the opposite of sadness or depression, or perhaps limitless and lasting happiness.

If I catch a sale at Dillard’s, then I am happy; if I bake a cake that does not fall, then I am happy; if I spend time in the company of the people that I love, then yes, indeed, I am happy. Those things are clear to me, pretty cut and dry. I can identify when I am happy and what makes me happy.

Joy, however, is a bit more confusing to me. Pastor Davis went on to say that joy is both an outcome of our relationship with God and our source of strength.

Now allow me to clarify here. I am a person who has faith, but I do not want you to think that I am any type of authority on Christianity. I am not. In fact I think of myself as a “C.I.T.” – Christian in Training – a work in progress if you will. To be clear, God ain’t through with me. I do, however, have many conversations with him throughout the course of my day, and many questions for both him and my pastor.

I asked Pastor Davis whether it is safe to say that once you have joy you will have happiness?

His answer was that although happiness and joy can be present at the same time, happiness is based on material things or events, such as when a person is given a gift, graduates from college or celebrates a birthday.

I’m an inquisitive person. I know this. My friends and family all know this. In fact, I can’t imagine why, but some of my closest friends have suggested that my inquisitive nature can be a little annoying. Certainly, I am not perfect, few people are.

I, too, believe you know not because you ask not, and I do know this about me: I will always want to know the who, what, when, where and why of something. I ask lots of questions, it’s my nature. I ask questions at work and in my personal life and, for sure, when it comes to my faith.

What is joy? Lots of people will no doubt give me lots of different answers. I prefer to embrace the meaning that Pastor Davis gave me. I believe that as a C.I.T it gives me hope to know that I can reach joy as I develop my spiritual self and the fact that you don’t have to be perfect to have true and complete joy. … certainly makes me a very happy girl.