Emotions are a good thing (when they do not rule us). After all, we are all created beings and God gave us these emotions. I love our awesome God knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Even more so, I love Him because He is just so awesome and so wonderful and so full of Grace and Mercy and so wants us to be in community with Him.
I do not want to minimize emotions from anyone. I do not want you to discard your emotions but I would ask you to seek and to pray and to search God's words for what I am writing here and ask should I always follow my emotions? Or should I trust God and lean not on my own understanding but acknowledge Him in all of my ways knowing that He will make my path straight. Please do not minimize what I am saying here (in your thoughts). Test these words and seek to see what Scripture reveals in them.
I am asking you to align your emotions with the word of God. That is, place an authority on your emotions and do not let them betray who God calls you to be.
Happiness - noun
-the quality or state of being happy.
-good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
Joy - noun
-the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation:
She felt the joy of seeing her son's success.
-a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated:
-Her prose style is a pure joy.
the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.
What is the difference between these two biblically?
Joy is more of a character trait while happiness is more of "in the moment" related to an emotion. So putting this into biblical perspective:
James 1: 2-3: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
Ecclesiastes 9:7: "Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do."
1 Peter 1:8-9: "8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
The word joy or the form of joy is found in the Bible over 200 times. If we just take a look at the perspective of biblical joy in the above mentioned verses than we can conclude that the difference between joy and happiness is that one is constant while the other can be a fleeting emotion.
If I do not get what I want from my wife or desired behavior from my kids or a co-worker at work than my happiness can be taken away. If I expect a desired outcome or a certain way of events and give into this emotional let down my happiness can be taken away, stolen or replaced with other emotions.
Whereas, biblical joy, is a constant or should be a constant in one's christian life. What is your fruit? Do you see the Fruit of the Spirit (reference Galatians 5) or the Fruit of the Sinful Nature present in your life. If you are truly saved and in God's family then you should see a transformation in your life. A willingness to draw closer to God and to have an authority in your life.
If, however, you are still pleasing yourself and finding that your life is ruled by emotions instead of relying on God's word and spiritual disciplines, then you need to examine your life to truly test and see that you are in the faith.
What is joy vs happiness look like in your life? Do you believe that all believers can have this joy even faced with trials and tribulations? (Read about Jesus's brother, James, and see how his life ended and how he could write this book about Jesus).
Don't let your emotions betray who you are in Christ (God's child - you are adopted sons and daughters of the King).