Do You Have Joy or Optimism

What's the difference?

Reality rarely looks like the resolutions or wish lists we write out. Between the lines, rejection will sting, stumbles can leave scars, dreams shatter and sorrow turns to tears. Sadly, we can waste years staying stuck in a moment.

Optimism tells us things will be better tomorrow. Whether that happens or not, optimism cannot control the circumstances.

Joy on the other hand does not come from these kinds of positive predictions. Joy doesn’t depend on what actually happens. It will show up in some very dark places, because nothing can change the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. Joy is not happiness. Joy is the fruit of hope.

Sometimes we interchange ‘hope’ and ‘wish’. Even the dictionary says the two words are synonyms, but hoping and wishing are just as different as joy and optimism.

A wish is a desire, a longing, a request.  

Hope is a confident expectation of good things to come. It’s the promises of God in his Word that bring us this hope. Hope believes the solid ground of God’s grace and the gospel of Christ is enough. Hope steadies itself on trust that God is for us and his faithfulness will not fail us.

Rooted in Truth, hope and joy dwell deep in the fibers of our soul where situations and circumstances cannot reach.

A wish is yearning. Hope is knowing.

Joy and hope cannot be separate. A hopeful person cannot be depressed and a joyful person cannot lose hope. Sometimes we realize that what we once considered hope and joy were merely selfish desires for success in a job, in a relationship, or in our finances.

Hope produces sweet layers of joy that linger in a breath long after a moment. It satisfies hunger, it settles longing and fulfills the desires of our heart.

It’s in this ‘in-between’ space, in the presence of pain that hope and joy drip with sweet honey, mercy and they find the strength to hold on to what is unseen, yet known.

God’s light is more visible and real than whatever fog or shadow you might be living in.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

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