It seems to me that people are not as happy as they should be. I know that life can be really brutal. Struggles are real. Pain, for some, is constant, whether it is physical or emotional. At the same time, most all of us have so much to be grateful for. We easily lose perspective.

I remember during the hardest days of our journey with cancer with our daughter, Perrin, that we had a saying that we clung to every day. It was “Find joy.” The stress of each day was off the charts, so we knew that unless we actively sought joy, that pain would win the day. The truth is that even in more normal days we still need to find joy. Our busy, distracted, driven nature, magnified by the culture around us blinds us to what we deep down desire the most.

There is soil in which joy thrives. 

  • Joy is never rushed – I can never think of a time when I was rushing and at the same time felt full of joy. If we are always in a rush, then we are likely crowding out the possibility of joy.
  • Joy is full of grace – Perfectionists have a hard time finding joy. The only time when joy becomes available is the rare circumstances when their appetite for perfection is satisfied. When we are more graceful with ourselves, and full of grace toward others, the windows of joy fling open.
  • Joy blossoms in nature – Joy certainly occurs indoors, but it is more at home outside. Fresh air, cool breezes, beautiful skies cause us to breathe easier. Nature invites joy.
  • Joy needs space – Just like joy loves the open space in nature, joy needs space in our schedules. If every minute is planned, every hour scheduled, then when do we experience joy? 
  • Joy loves people – Joy is particularly personal. While we find joy in nature and as we live with purpose, joy loves people. Relationships can be hard, exhausting, and full of difficulty, but God also meant people to be a source of great joy. We need to be willing to press through the hard places to find the rich soil that comes as we grow in love.
  • Joy comes from within – Joy begins within. All of the best techniques and most perfect circumstances won’t produce joy if our heart is hard and our soul is starved. Some people choke out joy with perpetual worry. Others through relentless driveness. Joy begins as we learn to love ourselves and we experience that we are loved by God. Until we get that right, the best we can hope for is fun.
  • Joy is bigger than circumstances – Perrin taught us the joy is bigger than circumstances. In the midst of hardship, constant pain, and plenty of reasons to complain, she experienced more joy in her seven-year battle with cancer than most people experience in a long lifetime. I will never forget her joy.

We are living in tense, worry-filled days. Joy does not come naturally when Covid, racial unrest, and political fighting dominate the headlines. While these are important issues, their seriousness makes it even more vital to intentionally seek joy each day.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice (find joy) and be glad in it.” (Ps 118:24)