Jealous for Joy

September 30, 2008 | My Jottings

I know there is a big difference between happiness and joy. Like anyone else I yearn to be happy, but I’m also aware that happiness is rather shallow and fleeting compared to deep and abiding joy. The harder life gets, the more I am jealous for joy.

I used to have this drawn into the inside cover of my Bible when I was a teen:

J esus

O thers

Y ou

I know that some of what I write might be easily misconstrued – I certainly don’t mean to imply that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves and should instead run ourselves ragged tending to others’ needs and not to the needs of our own families. I am just beginning to more firmly believe that there is rest and joy in the prescription Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:33.

I know we are seeing the me-first, me-wonderful, me-deserve-it, me-want-it-now generation, but I can speak from experience that self-focus and getting everything you want doesn’t bring true joy. Walking with Christ brings joy. Trusting His purposes brings joy. Hearing Him speak directly to your heart through His Word brings joy.

I don’t experience as much joy as I would like. I do all sorts of things that rob my life of joy (worry being one), but I’m learning. It’s a tall order for a control freak to let go and surrender, but the more I know of Him, the easier it is to relinquish my life and loves to Him.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes on joy.

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world. Helen Keller

Joy is an inward singing that cannot be silenced by outward negative circumstances.  Yes, even when life is seemingly falling apart. Robert D. Foster

Joy is the standard that flies on the battlements of the heart when the King is in residence. R. Leonard Small

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for He comes, He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His truth. Psalm 96:11 – 13

These are some trees in our backyard forest that have recently begun to sing for joy:

And here is the the Hallelujah Chorus warming up right outside our kitchen window:

I believe one day we’ll see that most of God’s creation speaks to Him and of Him at all times. Today as I think on how much I want joy to be the undercurrent of my life, our trees remind me to rejoice.

If trees can sing for joy, so can I.


  1. Dorothy Sooter says:

    What a profound message you have written. I have always known that when people truly focus on themselves, there is very little happiness and no joy. I did not know you were a control freak? Makes me laugh cause it would fit in with what your dad told me after our first year of marriage. He said that I was the most non-observant person he had ever known. As long as he brought it to my attention I discovered he was one hundred percent accurate. I also decided that not observing some things was probably to my benefit so I accept the fact that I am that way but it is okay. I have also felt for many years that being content with oneself (am not sure that is a word) does bring some comfort and have been content with who I am. I know your dad defined me and going off in the direction that I am now is helping me to find some peace.
    Again, I look forward to everything you write and pray that you will do a book some day. I just re-read one of your Christmas letters the other day and definitely felt joy while reading it. Love ya, Dorothy

  2. Just Julie says:

    What a gift to know someone as encouraging and loving as you are, Dorothy. I so look forward to your comments. Thank you. (For readers who might not know – Dorothy is my step-mom and friend, who took wonderful care of my father for over 25 years).

  3. Eric says:


    You are such a smart and loving woman. I don’t have many (any) other friends like you. We have so many differences, but having known you, I am sure that you have one of the purest hearts around. Your devotion and joy inspires me.

    I smiled so big when I saw the 5707 house. I loved that house too. What a gift it is that your house will give another family so many memories. I had pizza there. I loved the prints in the downstairs bathroom — (if you mess it… .) I even remember exactly where the toaster oven was. Definitely an impact.

    love ya.


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