Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
“Don't worry, be happy.” Everyone thinks that's good advice because we live in a generation seeking happiness. That's terrible advice. You can’t be happy all the time because happiness depends upon what “happens”—that’s why it’s called “happiness.” If your “hap” is good, you're happy. If your “hap” is bad, you're unhappy. But if you put your trust in happiness, you'll be a victim of circumstances, because your happenstance will change.
The Bible doesn't tell us to rejoice in circumstances but “Rejoice in the Lord.” Circumstances change; God never changes. Since He never changes, we can “Rejoice evermore” (1Thess. 5:16).
What's the difference between happiness and joy? Happiness is like a cosmetic whereas joy is like character. Happiness comes from outside circumstances. Joy comes from within. Happiness meets surface needs. Joy meets your deepest needs. Happiness is a thermometer—it registers conditions. Joy is a thermostat—it regulates conditions. Happiness evaporates in times of suffering. Joy frequently intensifies in times of suffering. In fact, it’s often intertwined with suffering.
It’s cruel to tell sorrowing people, “Smile and be happy.” We’re not expected to paste a smile on our face and be happy all the time. Jesus was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). Yet the Bible spoke of the joy of the Lord, and that He was “anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows” (Heb. 1:9).
Dear friend, this is a life of tragedy, sorrow, heartache and pain. Yet in that sorrow, you can have joy when you base it upon who God is in your life. Happiness is an outside job. Joy is an inside job.
Joy is the proof that what we have is real and that it satisfies. Joy is necessary in bringing unsaved people to Jesus Christ. We have nothing more winsome and attractive than the joy of the Lord. We’re told to serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2), for “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Neh. 8:1). It is joy that lubricates life.