Yellow leaves in Santa Isabel - Peten, Guatemala

Joy is a better deal

I’m getting this posted later than I wanted, but this past week has been insane. It’s been a wonderful learning experience but trying and exhausting and challenging on a level I really hadn’t expected.

I work for the marketing team of a global company, and our national sales meeting has been going on this week. Our owners came into town from out of the country, and we’ve all just been scrambling to prepare and execute this conference. Two hundred plus people attend this thing, and I’m really thankful I’m not the one in charge of it. But this year I had more responsibility than I expected. And while everyone has been pleased with what I was able to pull off, my little perfectionistic heart has struggled.

Yellow leaves in Santa Isabel - Peten, Guatemala

Yellow leaves in Santa Isabel - Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Proverbs 3:13.

Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.

Why do people think that we can find joy in things that won’t last? We look for joy in our careers. We look for joy in our families. We look for joy in our friends. We look for joy in our wealth.

But instead of finding joy, what we find is happiness. And happiness is temporary at best. Happiness is based on our circumstances. Happiness is like sand, unstable and shifting, sucked out from underfoot by the crashing waves of the ocean.

Joy is different. Joy is like a rock foundation that doesn’t move even in the worst storms of life. Joy is that stability in the unstable times of life. And if you have joy, you have something that nothing and no one can ever take away from you. That’s why we all search for joy. That’s why everyone wants joy, even if they don’t really know that’s what they’re looking for.

But happiness likes to masquerade as joy and that’s why people are easily fooled.

But joy isn’t something you find. It isn’t something you stumble on to by accident. It’s something you receive when you choose to follow Christ, when you choose to believe the Bible. Joy is a byproduct of learning the Scriptures and choosing to live by them.

According to this verse, joy comes from wisdom. When you get wisdom, you’ll be joyful. And I’m not talking about education. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is as vast as the difference between happiness and joy.

Wisdom is knowing what God says is right and choosing to do it no matter the consequences. And it’s choosing to live that kind of life that will bring you joy because if you life a wise life, you will have a joyful life.

If you want joy, you need wisdom.

My company had their annual awards dinner last night. It’s a big deal. A swanky event. Jackets required. Semi-formal attire. And enough alcohol to drown someone. As always I’m astonished at the amount of alcohol these people can put away.

Let me be clear. I don’t have a problem with people drinking. I choose not to, but that’s my preference. I don’t have a problem with alcohol; I have a problem with drunks. And there were more than a few drunk people last night.

Getting drunk isn’t wise. I was thinking about it last night as I was watching some of the things they were doing and saying. The only reason to get that drunk is to feel better and forget about your problems for a little while, but what good does it do you when you sober up? You still have all the bad stuff that you have to deal with. And I’ve learned from experience that putting things off and procrastinating doesn’t make them easier to deal with.

Getting drunk may make you happy, but that feeling is going to disappear (and leave a pretty bad hangover in its wake). Investing your whole life in a career may bring you happiness, but eventually that career will end and then who will you be? Buying fancy homes and fancy cars and the nicest clothes might make you happy today, but all those things can be destroyed by a single tornado and then where will your happiness go?

Searching for happiness is fine, but settling for it isn’t a good idea. Because happiness isn’t worth it. It doesn’t last long enough.

Joy is a better deal, even though you won’t always been happy. But happiness will come and go whether you have joy or not.  The only difference is that Joy provides a foundation that helps you stay upright in the darkest moments of your life.