From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
Many people think that being happy and being joyful are the same thing, but there is a difference. We experience a sense of happiness when our circumstances are pleasant and we’re relatively free from troubles. The problem, however, is that this kind of happiness is fleeting and superficial. When circumstances change—as they inevitably do—then this kind of happiness evaporates like the early morning fog in the heat of the sun.
Even when our outward circumstances are seemingly ideal, we still may be troubled inside by a nagging hunger or longing for something we cannot identify. We say we are “happy” but down inside we know it is only temporary and shallow at best. Even from time to time, we may think we have found a degree of happiness, but it eventually vanishes.
The kind of happiness that’s lasting is an inner joy and peace, which endures in any circumstance no matter what comes our way. It may even grow stronger in adversity. This is the kind of happiness to which Jesus summons us in His sermon of the Beatitudes. He alone has the answer to our search for lasting happiness. “He who heeds the word [of God] wisely will find good, … happy is he” (Proverbs 16:20).
Such happiness for which our souls ache is one undisturbed by success or failure, one that dwells deep within us and gives us inward contentment even in despairing circumstances; it needs no outward stimulus. “Count it all joy,” the Bible says, “when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2), because happy is the person who has learned the secret of being content with whatever life brings and then to share this secret with others who need encouragement.
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)