Are Joy & Happiness Really Distinct?

Here I am just taking some notes on joy and happiness from a blog post titled The Practical Benefit of the Word of God at the now defunct blog, Jollyblogger.

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart.
~ Psalm 119:1-2

~ Jollyblogger discusses the meaning of “blessed” in the above verse and points out that in the Hebrew there are two basic meanings. One has to do with being happy or joyful and the other has to do with being complete or whole. So we can take blessed to mean something like “completely happy” or “wholly happy”.

~ JB also says:
“Many Christians, myself included for quite a long time, have sought to distinguish joy from happiness in order to contrast the joy of following Christ with the superficial joys of this world.

The more I think about it and the more I study it, I’m not sure you can make such a sharp distinction. Maybe you can make some distinction, but not a sharp one. For instance, the one who has lost their mate can have the deepest sorrow in their heart over their loss and there can still be a sense of joy knowing that their loved one is in heaven and is free from sorrow.

~ Later on in the comments my friend Jeremy also says something quite interesting:

I think it’s possible to have great sorrow and great joy about the same thing at the same time for different reasons. Losing a loved one who is saved is a good example, particularly one who was having a hard time of it near the end. It makes sense to be incredibly happy that the person is out of pain and with the Lord. It also makes sense to be incredibly sorrowful at not having the person here anymore. I wonder if it’s not wrong to say that God experiences this too.

If that’s right, then your argument that joy involves happiness shouldn’t really be threatened at all, since happiness and unhappiness are compatible. It’s possible to be happy and unhappy. It’s not possible to be happy and not happy or to be unhappy and not unhappy. Since happy and unhappy aren’t contradictories, but merely contraries, this is ok.”

Advertisements