They say that the difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is dependent upon circumstances, while joy is not.
Additionally for the Christian, Scripture tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Not only is our joy not found in circumstances but in the Creator, but by partaking of this joy, we have the strength to live the life that He has called us to do.
Yet, as every Christian knows, this doesn’t come easy.
We tend to act as if our circumstance, rather than our walk with God, dictate our actions. We behave as if poor attitudes are justified by bad experiences. We evaluate our response by the degree of happiness we have.
However, if our joy is not found in our circumstances, than by God’s grace, we have the ability to respond rightly regardless of what the situation is.
This is especially important in our relationships. Not only are our marriages intended to be a representation of Christ and His Church (Eph. 5:22-33), but Scripture makes it clear that unbelievers will know that we are His disciples based on how we love one another. If expressions of our love are predicated on our happiness, than we are no different from those who don’t have the joy of the Lord strengthening them to act according to His Word. His Spirit, and not our situations, should control our response.
This means that how we treat our spouse can glorify God even in difficult moments. This means that our words and actions can be filled with grace regardless of the difficulty of our surroundings. His joy strengthens us to live rightly even when its tough to do so, even when the other person doesn’t “deserve” it. Because our thoughts are centered on Him, not on the circumstances.