This is week three of the Advent Season. Much like Lent, believers would fast and pray from mid-November until Christmas. Originally, it was a time for believers to prepare themselves for baptism, but during the Middle Ages, the focus changed to the Second Coming of Jesus. Only in recent years has the focus changed to the Nativity. 

For years now, I’ve heard people differentiate between joy and happy. Two different words, so they must have different meanings, right? Christians have latched onto the viewpoint that happiness springs from joy and you can have joy even when you aren’t happy.


Really? Does anyone else struggle a little with this?

God wants us to experience a taste of heaven on earth every day. ~Christine Caine, Foreword, The Sacrament of Happy

Happy is characterized by joy. Joy is the emotion of happiness.Digging Deeper

I had to look it up. Dictionary.com says that happy means, “delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing; characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.” Meanwhile, joy is defined as, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.”

Happy is characterized by joy. Joy is the emotion of happiness.

Can you really have one without the other? Yes, I know that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) but did Paul really mean for us to exclude happiness where he included joy?

Description from Amazon: The Sacrament of Happy

God is good, God does good, and oh, how He wants you to be happy.

The Sacrament of HappyIn her new book, The Sacrament of Happy: What a Smiling God Brings to a Wounded World, Lisa Harper unveils that happiness is a gift from God that we can unashamedly enjoy. Happiness tends to be cast as a fluffy emotion without substance rather than a biblical concept, but this is not theologically accurate. Wearing the twin hats of both seminarian and belly-laughing adoptive mom, Lisa Harper dismantles the old-school idea that joy, not happiness, is the truly spiritual emotion, and asserts that Christ-followers are actually called to happiness.

We are called to happiness, and this happiness is not impacted by personal or global tumult. In fact, happiness is a sacrament. The general definition of sacrament is “a visible sign of inward grace.” In communities of faith, it most often refers to holy communion or the Eucharist. In the broadest understanding, however, a sacrament is a gift bestowed by God, and in that case, ‘happiness’ is absolutely a sacrament—a visible, sometimes even audible, sign of inward grace!

Lisa shares heart-wrenching difficult stories from her past, as well as some side-splitting hilarity along the way. Throughout the book, we see that happiness and sadness can coexist and ebb and flow like the tides.


Genuine, God-given happiness is not the absence of sadness . . . it is the overriding presence of His sovereign mercy. The firm belief that He is good and He does good no matter what our current circumstances. ~Lisa Harper, The Sacrament of Happy

I love this book! Lisa’s writing style reminds me a bit of the parables of Jesus in that she makes her point then launches into a story. Those who listen closely both see her point within the story and remember the story, and therefore her point, later on in the day.

One of the things that struck me over the years is the differentiation between joy and happiness. When I express I’m happy, people want to point me toward joy.

  • Like happy isn’t good enough.
  • Like joy is the only important goal.

Why? Seriously. Why?

After reading this book, I think the author would agree that such talk is pharisaical in nature. It’s adding weight to people who, at least at the moment, are pleased. I understand that perhaps they may be faking it, but if it is genuine happiness, why is it not good enough?

God is a lot of things: holy, love, faithful, mercy, grace, and more. Could He also be . . . happy? And if He is, shouldn’t we seek more of it in our own lives just as we seek to be loving and merciful and holy?

The Bottom Line – 5 stars

No one’s happiness is based on luck if his or her joy is genuine. Happy is not the result of happenstance. ~Lisa Harper, The Sacrament of Happy

Reclaim happy! Joy and happiness are interlinked, and I’m convinced you cannot have joy without showing your happiness. So smile. Laugh. Dance. Enjoy the moments of blessing. Because God is good and He does good every day.


About the Author

Lisa HarperRarely are the terms hilarious storyteller and theological scholar used in the same sentence, much less used to describe the same person… but then again, Lisa Harper is anything but stereotypical! She has been lauded as a gifted communicator, whose writing and speaking overflows with colorful pop culture references that connect the dots between the Bible era and modern life. Her style combines sound scriptural exposition with easy-to-relate-to anecdotes and comedic wit.

The most noticeable thing about Lisa Harper is her authenticity. When recently asked about her accomplishments she responded with a grin saying, “I’m definitely grateful for the opportunities God’s given me; but don’t forget, He often uses donkeys and rocks!”

Read more at LisaHarper.net.


DISCLOSURE: I purchased this book myself and was not asked by the author or publisher for a review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

THE FINE PRINT: The federal government is concerned about businesses getting money from you without you knowing it. So, the Federal Trade Commission dictates that I must tell you when you are giving me any money. Additionally, my agreement with Amazon states that I must specifically tell you, “As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.” 

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