The Virtue of Joy

By Engr Carlos Cornejo

Many people confuse joy with happiness.

But joy is deeper and can remain in us in spite of bad times.  This is what Dwight Moody has to say about joy and happiness – “Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it; but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about. The Lord gives his people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to Him.”

Happiness is more of pleasure which is on the level of pleasing the senses (sense of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound). Joy is deeper. It is a state of the soul.

Depression likewise is a state of the soul which often times many would think is a bodily illness but more often than not it’s a sickness of the soul. As Dwight Moody would say joy is something that God gives to those who are obedient to him.

Possessing joy is aligned to the words of Christ when he said, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” (John 15:10) When we keep God’s commandments or obeying His will, we remain in God’s love and as a consequence of that love, God gives us His joy.

The joy of a faithful Christian is rooted in yielding his or her whole self to God, yielding the will and actions to the true good, true principles and true virtue and the lastly the yielding of the mind to truth and beauty which is the joy of contemplating God in prayer.

Religion is not hard to understand. It is hard to do. Religion is a relationship with God and to enter into that relationship we need to be obedient to Him and His commandments. It is that simple.

But many of us choose the opposite: sin – which goes against God’s commandments and makes us miserable. Why do many people choose sin when it clearly leads to misery? Because sin promises fun and some sense of independence.

If sin did not bring fun, we would easily be saints, Dr. Peter Kreeft says.  It is the Garden of Eden all over again. Eve lacked faith in God and trusted more the devil when being told you will not die but be like God knowing good and evil (sin of pride).

Scripture says, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom (wrong wisdom), she took some and ate it.” (Genesis 3:6) Eve paid more attention to the bait (pleasure) and not to the hook (the cause of misery).

To be able to distinguish the bait from the hook it takes wisdom.  And wisdom is knowing God’s word. We have to study God’s doctrine and teachings.

St. Teresa of Avila said, “All the evil in the world is derived from not knowing clearly the truths of Sacred Scripture.” But many would frown at this because they think religion is boring and predictable.

Things of the spirit seem to be boring but when you experience it you will be pleasantly surprised. Things of the flesh seem to promise excitement but when you indulged in it you will be short changed.

Pleasures of the flesh always does not live up to one’s expectation. But the joy in the Lord is stable and sturdy because it is built on rock.

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  (Matthew 7:24-25)