Throughout God’s word, we’re promised joy—not happiness, perhaps, but joy. Happiness is based on circumstances. Joy is a state of the heart.
Psalm 16:11 tells us that:
You [God] will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.We can even find joy through adversity (James 1:2). God, our loving Father, wants our joy.
So why does Paul write about not regretting causing sorrow for his fellow believers? One commentary clarifies:
Sorrow according to the will of God, tending to the glory of God, and wrought by the Spirit of God, renders the heart humble, contrite, submissive, disposed to mortify every sin, and to walk in newness of life. And this repentance is connected with saving faith in Christ, and an interest in his atonement. There is a great difference between this sorrow of a godly sort, and the sorrow of the world. (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary)We should be sorrowful about our sin, and that sorrow should lead us to repentance.
But once we’ve repented, we can be certain that God has removed that sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). And then we can experience that God-given joy.