Some Thoughts on Joy

Why is it difficult to live a joyful life? Maybe I should ask why it’s so difficult for me to live a joyful life.

Happiness is often defined as an emotion tied to a person’s immediate situation or mood, while joy is deeply rooted and not dependent on prevailing circumstances. And let’s be honest, the year 2020 has dished up some Circumstances. 

Have you ever correctly identified someone as a Christian based solely on the palpable joy they exude?

Clearly, something about them is different. It’s not that they don’t slip up and use bad language. They don’t necessarily present themselves modestly in dress or behavior, sporting, for instance, a t-shirt that encourages people to have a blessed day. Rather, joy radiates from them. They demonstrate something that, frankly, I’m not sure anyone can see in me.

A few mornings ago, I was talking with my husband about Chadwick Boseman, the talented actor who starred in Black Panther and who recently died from colon cancer. Mr. Boseman was one of those people whom I had correctly guessed was a believer based on his joyful manner.

“I want to be like that,” I announced to Jim. “I resolve to go about my days being joyful!”

Not an hour had elapsed since my Grand Declaration of Joy before I had complained about our backyard landscaping. Then there was nothing decent in the refrigerator for lunch. And I groused not-so-under-my-breath that I must be the only one on the family who realizes boxes can be broken down prior to throwing them in the recycling bin.

Joy, like salvation, isn’t dependent on any work I do. It’s revealing that traits like persistence, effort, and strength are not included in the spiritual fruits list found in the book of Galatians. So, instead of working harder at being joyful, I’d like to absorb the promise of Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

Finally, today is National Lazy Mom’s Day. It also would have been my mom’s 87th birthday. She was the epitome, in the best sense, of hardworking, so this bit of irony makes me smile. She died almost twenty years ago, and the time since has moved at Mach speed. A good reminder that the clock runs out on the opportunities we have to realize and express joy.




  1. Laura Hildreth

    I ABSOLUTELY loved your blog post! So relatable. I so often, also, “re-calibrate” my personality/behavior to be less negative, more joyful, more hopeful, etc., and also find myself, in short order, behaving and feeling the exact opposite. After reading your post I’m re-calibrating again but will keep the bible verse you shared at the forefront of my thoughts today. You’re a gifted writer. Can’t wait to read more!

  2. Mary Ann Cox

    I remembered your mother’s birthday. Your Dad’s Will be soon also, as well as your son’s birthday in between them.
    Yes, I feel joy filled most of the time because it is a mindset at my age. I find only good in everything but yes, lunch choices and restrictions have altered my life. I miss family scattered all over the world and I call them when I need a fix, but life isn’t always what we want.
    By the way, I’m NOT breaking down boxes because I want the trash bin full when I take it to the street these days! It’s a crazy thing but life isn’t all that perfect either!
    Love you, Karen!! I can’t get enough of your soul searching and well written, Christian writings! Our scripture verses are always what we need daily!

  3. Elisa Parker

    I loved this!! I appreciate the honesty you put into your writing. I envy those people who always seem happy and joyful. I wish I could be like that but it comes and goes on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. I have to take a deep breath and remember to be grateful for all that I do have in my life (family, good friends) but most of all my faith in God. Without that I am nothing. I can’t wait for your next post!!

  4. Amanda

    Love! And Happy Birthday to your sweet Momma in her ultimate JOY!

    • Karen Kuhlmann Averitt

      Thank you! And ultimate joy is right!