God and Sexual Assault

Joy versus Happy

What do they mean?

These two terms have had me confused for a while. Depending on who you listen to or where you look for a definition, they can mean different things. I often thought that they were interchangeable. However, they are two totally different words.

I can remember many years as I was struggling greatly with coming to terms with my trauma, and in serious depression that I would hear Pastors preach on being “joyful always.” To be totally honest my response (in my head) was “You don’t know what I’ve been through! Who are you to tell me to be joyful always!”

Can you relate? I felt like the pastors were saying be joyful you were sexual abused. Be joyful you were raped. Be joyful you are struggling to make it day to day. I truly thought they had no idea.

However, as I had a long conversation today with my counselor, we discussed the difference between the two. I had already begun to feel a peace that God is taking care of me, but I hadn’t really looked at this as joy. However, I love to share new knowledge so here’s my lesson learned today. 😊

Happiness – This is related to an experience. For example, you go to church with some good friends and find out your favorite Christian band or singer is going to be there. You are happy. It is related to what is going on and who you are with at the time.

Joy – This is a little more abstract. It is similar to a peace you have inside you. The peace that you know God personally and because of that you are secure with eternity in heaven with Him. The peace that He will take care of you because He loves you and wants what is best for you. That is what joy actually is for us. Peace.

Another example of joy, would be someone being happy (glad) to be with you. You walk in and their face lights up and you realize they are truly glad you are there. That can bring you joy.

I understand it is possibly hard to take in, because if you’re like me, why would anyone feel happy to see me? Our trauma experiences and family of origin cloud how we view ourselves, but there are actually people who are happy to be with you – I promise. That brings joy.

As I meditated on this today, I remembered the verses, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

God’s will is for you and me to always have His peace, to pray and be in relationship with Him at all times, and give thanks for the blessings no matter what is happening. I get it, there were times I couldn’t find blessings. In fact, I forced myself to write a book of 50 blessings in 2018 to get me out of focusing on my depression so much.

Finding simple blessings in things such as deodorant – I mean think about it. How smelly and uncomfortable would this world be if everyone smelled everywhere you went? Ugh, no thank you! See, you can find a blessing even when you have to search hard. 😊

As you contemplate the difference between Joy and Happy I pray you find the peace God has for you no matter the storm you’re in, but I also pray you have some happy moments too.

As I finish today, I share what the Lord told Moses in Numbers as to how he should bless the Israelites. It is my prayer today for you as well.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.” Numbers 6:22-26

© 2021 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.

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