Joy is so much different than happiness. Happiness is fleeting, happiness changes with our circumstances, happiness is temporary. That's why it's so important to teach our kids the importance of having joy. We can have joy because we have a God Who loves us unconditionally. We can have joy because even though our circumstance may change HE will never change. We can have joy because we have eternal life. Joy is not an emotion, it is an attitude of the heart. The joy of the Lord is bigger than us and our circumstances.
There are too many people walking around on this earth today who are emotional yo-yo's. If things are going good, they are up. If things are going bad, they are down. I would like my life and our children's lives to be different. I don't want our circumstances to dictate whether we are having a good day or not. That's not Biblical, and it's not healthy. I want to have joy...always.
We teach our children from a very young age that they need to be joyful in all circumstances. (Phil.3:1) We are not commanded to rejoice only when things are going right, but in everything.....did you get that???? IN EVERYTHING!!!! If we could get this into our spirit, if we would choose to live it, how much more contented we would be.
How do we teach this practically to our children? Once again, example is what will speak the most to your children. Do my children hear me complain a lot? Do I complain about our house, our health, our family, our work, our finances, the weather.....and the list goes on and on. If my children hear me complain about these things often, why do I think that they will react any differently?
An area that we always find a opportunity to teach joy is in the area of work. It's not hard to tell when a child is less than joyful about doing a job! Often it is body language that gives it away, (stomping feet, pouting, or even crying). This is not acceptable behaviour in our home. If a job is given, that person is expected to reply with a "Yes Ma'am" and go about doing the job with a good attitude (without "bad" body language). We often talk about being joyful when we do our work. We talk about doing everything without complaining or arguing like God asks us.
God says in His Word that the "joy of the Lord is our strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). The opposite of joy drags us down. But when we choose to have joy, our spirits are lifted and it's amazing how much better things seem to be even though our circumstances have not changed!