6. Joy

Joy is not happiness, nor is happiness joy. Joy far exceeds the limits of happiness in time and space.

Happiness is limited to constraints of the temporal; it has a positive correlation with an event typically tied to a specific time or sequence in time It is a desired rest form some action, or maybe a desired consequence of some inaction. Happiness is limited to space as it is observed by a subject. Meaning, one cannot experience happiness if the consequential action or inaction it is tied to lies outside the scope of the subject’s observation. (Whether the subject’s observation is primary or secondary may be semantic at this point of analysis.)

Joy, on the other hand, lies outside of the time-space matrix. It does not correlate with result, but rather persists in spite of result. If you call out, you will be answered. That is a promise grounded in love. Happiness is the emotional response to the desired outcome of the answer as constrained by time and space. Joy is the persistent result of a temperate mind regardless of the answer. By “the answer,” I do mean

A) whether the answer is desirable or not desirable (in the subject’s view) and
B) the patience and long-suffering the subject endures before they are shown great and mighty things

There is a popular idiom which says “joy comes in the morning.” The more obvious interpretation is that after darkness experienced through trials, the light will come and bring with it resulting joy. But this is out-of-context thinking. Taken from this song, the more complete phrasing reads

For His anger is but for a moment,
His favour is for life;
weeping may endure for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.

Trials and correction are equated to moments in time, while joy is equated to lifelong favour. While the simpler interpretation of joy-after-darkness is promising, it disregards the importance of patience and long-suffering whereby

patience : long-suffering

First, patience is worked. You can only gain patience—and, thus, endurance—by it being continually tested. Second, long-suffering is travailing the rocky road figured into the map you have been given that will, in time, get you to your destination. (You can choose to walk around the rocky road and you can choose to not walk, but your endurance will be weak.) Drawing this into the above equation, I’ll say

patience x work : long-suffering x rocky road

We can try to remove any of the variables, but mathematically it would yield the following undesirable results:

  • if patience is not worked, the long-suffering is of no benefit because the destination is not in focus
  • if there is no rocky road or long-suffering, the walk is quite simple—but there is no progress and no glory
  • if you work something other than patience, say emotion (which is highly variable), the long-suffering and rocky road are magnified

So, somewhat ironically, it may be more useful to say that “joy comes in the mourning." Emphasis is on patience by long-suffering. It’s no mistake that joy is the second fruit of the spirit mentioned after love. Joy is birthed from living a life of love: receiving love, inhabiting love, and giving love. We decide to inhabit love and we choose who to give our love to, especially our most intimate forms of love. Of these three, receiving love may be the most difficult. Why? Because if God is love and humans are made in His image, we must receive other people’s opinions, values, edicts, criticisms, and general life messiness with complete love and in a mindset of joy. Or, listening better and accepting people for who they are and not for how well they perform on our personal value scale. From this, happiness can only be attained in minimal instances and in minimal doses.

When we seek happiness, we may be more inclined to mourn lack of love in our own time. When we seek joy, we may be more inclined to mourn lack of love in a broken world.