Summary: We tie our joy to many things, but we need to tie it to Jesus alone!
Good morning and happy mother’s day! You know, there are 1000 topics and sermons you can preach on Mother’s Day. I feel a lot of pressure up here today, because I want to talk about something memorable and impactful – something that can change our lives. But then I thought, “Isn’t that what we try to do every Sunday?” So, as I normally do, I prayed and asked God to give me a message that will allow the Gospel to become more real to all of us today. And God told me to preach about Joy.
Who knows the difference between joy and happiness? I have put the definitions in your bulletin insert. Happiness is the quality or state of being happy; good fortune, pleasure, contentment, and joy.
Joy is a feeling of great happiness; a source or cause of great happiness: something or someone that gives joy to someone; success in doing, finding, or getting something.
It becomes hard to tell the difference between those 2 words because they use the other in the definition. We have a tendency to use them interchangeably. Happiness = joy and vice versa.
So in order to differentiate between the 2, I believe God has given me additions to those definitions – happiness is something we seek ourselves, and it comes and goes based on circumstances. But joy is a gift of the Spirit from God. We don’t have to search for it, He gives it to us, and it becomes the state of our hearts.
A man was looking for his glasses. He looked on the counter, he looked on the nightstand, he even went out to his car thinking he might have left them out there. In the end, he found them on his head. Do you know why he didn’t find them right away? Because he wasn’t looking in the right place! We always find things in the last place we look…
I don’t know about you, but I want joy in my life. And just like the man with his glasses, sometimes I look in the wrong places for my joy, or I confuse it for happiness. I have looked for my joy at the bottom of a cake pan, in my bank account, and in the faces of other people. As a mom, I have found a lot of happiness in my children, but it can be a bittersweet – as much as we love our kids, they can sometimes behave in a way that causes us to have a less than joyful reaction!!! They grow up to become their own people, and sometimes their decisions make you not-so-happy.
How about you? Where have you looked for joy? In a relationship? In a job? In a possession like a car or a home?
We might find “temporary joy” - or happiness - in those things. Fleeting happiness that we think will turn to joy, but it never fails that we become disappointed in the very thing we thought was going to fulfill us.
We apply for our dream job, and we get the call that they are making an offer! OH HAPPY DAY!!! We dance around and think of all of the stuff we are going to buy with all of the money we are going to make! We are excited about all of the new people we will meet and the new experiences we will have, and all is right with the world.
Then one of your kids mouths off. And you get a flat tire. Then some unexpected expense pops up and you get into a fight with your spouse. You go to take a shower and there is a spider in there. Just a few hours ago you had reached the epitome of happiness, and now, here you are, miserable again. Snapping at people. Kicking the dog. Why does this happen to us?
It is because we confuse momentary happiness with the gift of Joy, and we tie that happiness to the wrong thing. In her book, “Made to Crave,” Lysa TerKeurst talks about how her happiness was tied to food. “Tying my happy to the wrong things is partially what caused my weight gain in the first place. There were too many experiences I enjoyed primarily because of the food that was attached to them. The movies were tied to popcorn. A birthday party was tied to cake. A ballgame was tied to a hotdog. School parties were tied to cookies. A morning meeting was tied to gourmet coffee. Getting gas was tied to snack crackers and a soda. Watching TV was tied to chips. A summer outing was tied to ice cream. A winter outing was tied to hot chocolate.”
Like so many of us, our joy and happiness are tied to something that they shouldn’t be tied to. And that sets us up for disappointment and failure when other things threaten to remove them. In Lysa’s case, her ties caused her to gain weight, so when she realized she needed to lose weight, it looked as though all of her happiness and her joyful activities were going to have to go out the window.