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A to Z Answers: Joy when the Journey Seems Junky

Some days, you want to jump for joy. But sometimes, you just wanna jump. Does that mean your Jesus joy is in jeopardy?

Not at all.

Joy can be fun, making us nearly jittery with jubilation. On the other hand, joy may still exist when happiness seems to have fled.

What’s the difference?

Consider the words “happy” and “joyful.” All too often, we lump these two terms together, as if they meant the same thing. They don’t. In fact, they occasionally manifest themselves in real life as practical polar opposites.

Happiness is linguistically linked to such words as happening and happenstance. Being happy depends largely upon our circumstances and experiences, which may seem to occur haphazardly. We tend to be happy when good things are happening to us.

When we are joyful, however, we are filled with joy. Joy is something that is poured into us from the outside. Joy comes from a source beyond ourselves.

Are you hungry for joy?

No one can be joy-filled by himself or herself, just like no one can stave off hunger without introducing nutrition.

When was the last time you felt real hunger? Could you make yourself feel full without adding something fresh and new? Of course not.

Joy must be added.

And true joy comes from One Source.

You make known to me the path of life;
   You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
   with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
(Psalm 16:11, NIV)

It is possible to possess joy on the most dismal, discouraging and disgusting days. When our journeys seem piled with junk, we can still have joy.

Happiness is immediate and fleeting. It rests precariously upon our current conditions. And it’s an emotion. That means it can quickly change, as happenings affect the motion of the emotion.

But joy is a truth, no matter how we feel.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
   and your lips with shouts of joy.
(Job 8:21, NIV)

I belong to Jesus, the Author of joy. As a Christian, I’ve been marked with the Name of Christ. Maybe you have too.

I’ve read the Bible. Perhaps you have as well.

I know Who holds the future. He wins in the end.

That’s joy, no matter how I might feel today.

So please excuse me, if you find me frustrated, sad, grumpy, or exhausted on a given day. We’re still living in fragile flesh in a fallen world, but the victory is on the way.

Ask me about joy. Lift my head, and you might even see a glimpse of an eternal smile. And I’ll try to do the same for you.


A few years ago, I attended the funeral of a friend. The congregation settled into the pews, with folks nodding politely to one another, as the organist played quietly in the background. Suddenly, she stopped.

The sanctuary fell silent, waiting for the grieving family to enter.

In a moment, we heard muffled music, which grew ever louder and clearer. The bereaved clan, including at least three generations of extended family, was singing together acapella in the lobby. And this is what they sang:


That’s joy.

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  1. Hello, and a joyous day to you. He continually teaches me that regardless of how difficult the journey may be, He is always with me, and gives me peace. Best regards to you, Ruby
    (I am almost 79 and enjoy life each day)

  2. Just found your blog and MUST tell you what a blessing you are. I love the verse at the top and your wonderful writing.

  3. I sang "It is well" at my Dad's funeral, also acapella. And it is, because I will see him again!