A joyful heart makes a cheerful face Proverbs 15:13
Joyful – Solomon’s observation about appearance looks beneath the skin. He’s not interested in the veneer of happiness. He wants to know the root cause. And when he looks, he sees something quite different than our contemporary cultural images.
If you want to see someone with a semeach heart, just look at Paul in prison. Beaten, chained and left in the dark, what is Paul doing? He’s singing hymns of praise. He is overflowing in adoration to His Lord.
Here’s the lesson: semeach joy has nothing to do with my circumstances. It is joy from deep within, independent of the situation. In Biblical language, it is a gift from God because this kind of joy comes only from a divine perspective on life. What befalls me matters not at all if I am in the hands of my Master.
Today we proclaim a different kind of experience. We are the culture of happiness. We want our circumstances to align with our dreams. We want everything to be just right. And we won’t be happy until we get all that we deserve. Today, happiness is the goal of life, not joy. It is our right to pursue happiness. The Declaration of Independence says so, and we believe it. But life doesn’t cooperate. So we vacillate between hope and despair as we try to force the world to fit our desires.
God has a very different point of view. Pursuing happiness is for fools. God is interested in joy, in semeach joy because He knows something we have forgotten. In this world you have trouble. The world is no friend of God’s. The closer you draw to Him, the more the world will hate you. If you are living God’s values, happiness is probably not on your plate. But joy is! The joy of being in His grace, of knowing His comfort, of feeling His love and finally, of joining Him in paradise. That’s real joy.