Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Year one: "Count it all Joy..."

 I can hardly believe a whole year has already passed! It seems like just yesterday I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was soon becoming a wife! What a year it has been.

When thinking back over these past 365 days, a lot of emotions swarm my thoughts; happiness, sadness, tiredness, excitement and weariness. The first year was tough y’all. I’ll be honest; there have been many moments where I questioned if this was normal or if something was truly wrong. Isn’t the first year supposed to be full of so much happiness?

Kid you not, the moment I had this thought, the Lord spoke. My mind immediately went to the verse, James 1:2-3 “Count it all Joy…” It was as if the light bulb went off in my head, joy, not happiness.

This got me thinking. I have heard many sermons discerning the difference between the word happiness and joy from a biblical point of view, but what exactly is it? The two words appear to be very similar in the English language.

Let’s see, first off, Joy is something that is attained through the Holy Spirit:

May the God of Hope fill you with all Joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is not law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

But even still, these verses seem to align the word joy as being synonymous to being happy. Yet, notice that happiness is something that we are not promised from God.

I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

So that brings me back to my original question, what does Joy entail here?

According to Vines Expository dictionary of the New Testament[1], the word Joy used in the above passages is derived from the Greek word Chara (Khiro). This dictionary defines the meaning as “rejoicing, being glad.” In comparison to the English dictionary both joy and gladness contain a sense of happiness (Joy: A feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Glad: being pleased, grateful) but also a sense of appreciation. A great passage to reference for this translation is Matthew 5:11-12

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in Heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

To be joyful is to be thankful, to look forward to what God has done, is doing and will do for us in His name. Happiness is not a completely inaccurate translation, as I believe Joy is a spiritual happiness, instead of a worldly happiness. Happiness of the world seems to fluctuate with the ebb and flow of life’s circumstances. Yet, joy seems to be able to withstand these changes.

The first year of marriage is such a roller coaster. One second you are independent and caring for you and yourself only, then in a matter of a few promises, your life transitions from a “me” to a “we”. It’s not an easy feat combining two very established lives and lifestyles. That is a great thing about having a marriage rooted in the strong foundation of the Lord. As the marriage grows, as we learn and embrace the inevitability of change, there is a constant supply of the Holy Spirit running through all facets.

I think a lot of the challenges that came with the first year of marriage were exacerbated because of a false expectation of happiness I was trying to apply. There were many times I knew happiness was the last thing I was feeling and I genuinely thought something was wrong with me (stupid Satan and his lies). 

There are always going to be bumps in the road. Learning to die to ourselves daily is a lot easier said than done, especially in a fallen world. Trying to be happy through those tough times is almost impossible because it takes conscious, human effort. As Paul says in Galatians, Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, this attribute does as well. We are able to remain joyful, despite circumstances, because this feature is compelled by divine power. The Lord is glorified in the midst of our trials and struggles through our faith to be Joyful; appreciation and thankfulness of his saving grace!

As we turn the page to the next chapter, the next year, of this adventure that is marriage, it is looked upon through a different lens. Just in the simple deciphering of the word Joy and Happiness, I feel a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I am confident in knowing that it is okay to struggle, to have rough days, weeks, or months. We can’t maintain happiness through our own strength because we grow weary. However, through the everlasting and never ending power of the Holy Spirit, we can maintain joy, always. We hope, trust and rejoice in the fact that no matter what, God is greater than all. 

[1] "Greek Lexicon :: G5479 (KJV)." Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 21 Jul, 2015. <>.

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