Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. (JBP)
It is not only hard to be happy all the time, it is actually a serious problem if we are always happy. Can anyone be happy when a tragedy hits home, or when our world is in such a fragile and disordered state? Such “happiness” is more like dangerous delusion.
Which is why we must not take texts like we have today as speaking about happiness. We are urged to rejoice, not be happy. Happiness is an emotional response to favourable circumstances; joy is a glad confidence in the goodness of God. So we can’t be happy all the time because circumstances are not favourable all the time. However we can be joyful all the time because God is good all the time.
This is why Jesus told his followers to expect lots of trouble and lots of joy in life. He didn’t see any incompatibility between the two. To expect happiness or insist on happiness all the time eventually makes us miserable. It is beyond us. We cannot demand circumstances be such that we are happy. There is too much sorrow and adversity in our East of Eden world for us to be happy all the time.
So best aim for joy which rests on a surer foundation. Happiness is welcome and delightful, but it is also elusive and fragile. Joy might not have the same tingling excitement but it goes deeper and lasts longer.