The word joy has all but disappeared from our current Christian vocabulary. One reason is because we have confused joy with happiness, and have come to believe it is found in pleasure, security, and prosperity. In doing this, however, we have believed a lie that Satan is constantly telling the world to believe.
But James did not say, “Count it all joy when you fall into an easy chair.”
He said, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” — James 1:2
Joy is not the same as happiness—although they may overlap. Happiness depends on circumstances; joy depends on God. Happiness vanishes when life turns painful; joy keeps going and may even grow.
Joy comes from a living, vital relationship with God. It comes from knowing this world is only temporary and that someday we will be with God forever. It comes from the fact that, although we do not yet see God, we “believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8 NIV). It comes from a life of submission to the Holy Spirit—regardless of circumstances.