There is a difference between the two and it is sometimes hard to see. To be simple, I feel joy comes from the Lord and since the Lord is the source, it can be found in moments when we should not have it. Happiness on the other hand, is contingent upon what I am feeling and what the circumstances around me tell me. Happiness requires an invitation, joy is a choice and is often needed most during hardship.
When I look at Job I see how the Lord was able to give him joy during the test he went through. Not once did Job curse God's name and turn his face from him, but if Job decided to rely on happiness during his tests, I am sure we would not have made it. The story may have been told a bit differently.
Nehemiah 8:10 reads, "Nehemiah said, 'Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'" Joy is not only going to help during the hardships, it will also give me strength when I feel weak or unable.
Choose joy this week when happiness seems to be hard. Ask the Lord to allow his joy to be your strength.
I will leave us with a prayer,
Lord I thank you for your faithfulness to me. I thank you for the ways you love me. I ask now Lord for you to give me joy in the middle of my storms and to help me find happiness on the days nothing is going on. I ask that the joy you give would sustain me and keep me lifted when everything around me tries to drain me. I ask for your joy to give me strength and to comfort me in my time of need.
I pray and ask all of these things in Jesus' name,