Written by Kaylee Summers. Media by Max Gensler. [divide]
Sometimes in college it is hard to stay on top of homework, stay in touch with friends and attend meetings. It can be difficult to balance busy schedules and remain happy during tough times like midterms. However, there are ways to seek joy even through the trials of college life. Many times, people misunderstand joy and happiness and use these words interchangeably. However, they are two separate words with two separate meanings.
Have you ever listened to a song that made your heart beat wildly and feel stilled by the absolute beauty of the moment? Have you sat at the foot of your grandfather’s bed hearing him tell his life story to the three generations gathered around listening intently? Have you ever climbed a mountain, reached the top and saw miles and miles of beauty?
These memories are the bits of happiness mixed into a life of joy. You see, happiness is fleeting. Happiness is an emotional state that usually comes and goes in waves. The song always ends, the story comes to a close, and you can’t stay on top of the mountain forever. At some point, you have to come down. However, joy is always with us and it is the heartbeat of a fulfilled life.
Joy sticks around when the song ends and all you are left with is silence. Joy is a sturdy and unshakeable state of being directly related to how God works in our lives. Throughout the Gospel, the word joy is used when God’s people experience deliverance, except salvation, and come to know God’s intimate presence through the Holy Spirit.
If joy is a reaction to God’s works in our life, then we can be sure that joy is possible in every situation because God is always working. Joy is possible in the very first cry of a long-awaited child and joy is still possible in the death of a loved one because we know that God has already worked in life and death. There is no place in life that joy cannot abide because there is no place on earth that Christ cannot overcome.
During the times in my life when I have been at my end, depressed and stuck in pain, God came and dwelled with me in my pain. I saw him bring my family together through the death of my grandmother as my older brother wrapped his arms around me at the funeral when we sang “it is well”. I witnessed God mend my heart after my first real heartbreak and bring me a best friend who held my head in her lap and brushed my hair as I cried. God shows his love for us when he works through his children to take care of us in the sad bits of life. Through the pain, I experienced God’s work in my life and the reaction to his personal care for me is a life of joy.
Sadness only lasts for a season and happiness is not forever, but the joy of the Lord is present throughout all seasons. I am a joyful person because I have experienced real pain and real happiness and seen God work in both. So, I will continue to take the bits of happiness and sadness as they come with a large dose of joy because I know that when I experience all three I am truly alive.