Written by Mindy DeAngelis
What is joy? The dictionary tells us that it is a feeling of great happiness. Where does it come from? How do we attain it? These are questions that I have asked myself consistently because I have struggled with joy for a long time. I have sought it from my marriage, my children, my appearance, and my home. However, the joy found in these things is fleeting which causes me to search elsewhere to find it again.
Last month I traveled to Haiti with FPSM to meet our Haitian team members. I was excited, yet nervous, considering I had never been to a third world country. I wondered what the people were like and if we would get along well. To my delight our new friends were amazing! The laughter, singing, and encouragement were never ceasing. They were always ready to serve without complaint and the joy they had seemed to radiate from within them. It was fascinating to witness! Whether we were working in the muddy garden, building the chicken coop, searching for building staples for hours, or sharing the gospel with the people of Milot, their joy remained. Daily life in Haiti is hard and my new friends there have faced many other difficulties in life. Illness, loss of a home, and separation from family are only a few. Their unending joy gave me joy and I left them thinking that I had finally found what I had been looking for. I was wrong.
It has only been a month since returning from Haiti. Every day I desperately struggle to hold on to the fading joy I felt there. Why can’t I have lasting joy? The kind that is infectious to those around me. Then God answered and sweetly ministered to my heart. True happiness, or joy, as the Bible calls it, isn’t dependent on what happens to me or around me. It is not dependent on where I live, what I have, or who I love. Happiness is not the goal of my faith but a symptom of it. It is the pursuit of holiness that produces the joy I seek. James tells us in chapter 1 verses 2-4 to “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” This is exactly what my Haitian friends were living out. My prayer is that, like them, we too would draw our happiness from the well of living water and not from the things of this earth. That by doing so we will find ourselves content in all trials and troubles.