Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:5-11
JOY is defined as "a feeling of great pleasure and happiness."
John Piper defines it another way. "Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the WORD and in the WORLD."
It is true that "happy" is one of the emotions that joy evokes but it is not the entirety of what joy is.
In some ways joy is the very opposite of happy. Happy tends to be based on what we have and what we get. Joy concerns itself more with what we GIVE.
This should not be confused with what we DO through our own efforts. We cannot, in and of ourselves, produce true joy.
Joy does not depend on circumstances, which come and go, but comes from a deep unending well of love found only in Christ.
Have you ever heard that the cure for a bad day is to do something kind for someone else? One day many years ago I was having a terrible day. I had stopped at Sonic to get something to drink and decided to buy a meal for a homeless man I had seen on the corner. I delivered the meal and prayed with the man and I did, indeed, feel better. On the way home I passed by a church that had the words "Nehemiah 8:10" posted on its electronic sign. I went home and looked up the passage:
Go out and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing since today is Holy to the Lord. Do not grieve for THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH.
Another definition I found seems to be much closer to what true joy is: "When we achieve a selflessness to the point of personal sacrifice."
Hebrews 12:2 confirms this definition.
Let us fix our ours on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who, FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross.