A woman wearing a backpack and holding her hand up to her head while walking down a sandy road.
Spiritual Growth

How to Find the Joy in the Journey Even When It’s Hard

A lot of people talk about wanting to find happiness. But happiness is surface level. It is conditional. And temporary.  

A better thing to seek is joy.  

Joy is deep. It’s not based on our circumstances. And it lasts.  

Living with a chronic illness that affects my everyday life, means I sometimes struggle to find joy. But because of Jesus, I am learning we can hold onto both sorrow and joy at the same time.  

I can feel sorrow over my disabilities and the way my health affects me. But I can also choose to feel joy over the good things in my life, my relationship with Jesus, and all the things He has promised me.  

Jesus is teaching me how to find the joy in the journey no matter what I’m facing.

Because joy comes from within.

It is a gift from Him.

God is the reason we can experience joy in every moment of our life.  

From the mundane. To the extraordinary.  

From the really good moments. To the moments when life is really hard.  

What does finding joy in the journey mean?

Blessed is the life that finds joy in the journey.  

This is our goal. To live a blessed life by finding joy in whatever journey God has put us on.   

This means learning to be content with what we have and where we are in life. It means remembering how much we have been blessed. While letting go of the endless striving and stress.  

It doesn’t mean our life is going to be perfect. We are going to have bad days. Days where we complain more than we give thanks.   

The point is progress . . . not perfection.    

Finding joy in the journey means when you do have a bad day, you choose to lean on Jesus.

And ask Him to help you change your mindset.   

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”    

-Romans 12:12 NLT

How do you find joy in the little things?

To find joy in the little things we must learn to slow down. We must remember life is a journey, not a destination.  

It’s more of a marathon than a sprint.   

When we slow down, it’s easier to pay attention to the many reasons for joy all around us.   

  • From the beauty of a sunrise.
  • To the intricate design of a flower.
  • To the laughter of a child.
  • To the way a person’s eyes sparkle when they smile.   

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  

-Romans 15:13 NLT
A woman hiking up a hill covered in tall grass. And the words, "Choose to find joy in the journey because God is with you."

How to Find Joy in Jesus.

Joy is one of the characteristics listed as the fruit of the Spirit. It is a trait the Holy Spirit works in us as we abide in Him.  

Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches.  

As we spend time with Him. As we learn to live our life in connection with Him, the Holy Spirit develops the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  

Including joy. 

But how do we find joy when life is hard? When we look around at our troubling circumstances and see little reason to have joy?

A woman holding a leaf in her open hands. And the words, We can hold onto both sorrow and joy at the same time."

How to Find Joy When Life is Hard.

Jesus came down to Earth to be WITH us. To laugh with us. To cry with us. To celebrate with us. And to struggle with us.   

He knows all too well what it is like to hold both laughter and tears in His own two hands.  

In fact, the Bible says Jesus endured the SUFFERING of the cross for the JOY set before Him.   

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

-Hebrews 12:2 NIV

Jesus felt both sorrow and joy. At the same time.   

Sorrow over the pain He was going through. Sorrow over being separated from His Father. And sorrow over our sin that was keeping us from Him.   

And yet, Jesus also felt joy.   

Joy because He knew what He was doing.

He knew He was making a way for us to be set free. He knew that soon everything would be over. It would be finished. The price would be paid. And the debt would be canceled.   

Jesus knew that because of Him, everyone could be forgiven.   

Jesus knows what it is like to hold onto joy and sorrow at the same time.  

He gets it.   

So, pour your heart out to Him. Let the tears unabashedly fall. And then raise your hands in worship of the God who loves you. And is always with you.    

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

-Psalm 42:11 NIV
A woman smiling while holding her head in her hands. And the words, "Choose joy."

How do I find joy in life?

By following these 10 helpful tips you can learn how to find joy in life.

  • 1) Seek God first.
  • 2) Slow down.
  • 3) Be grateful.
  • 4) Stay positive.
  • 5) Pay attention to your environment.
  • 6) Fix your focus.
  • 7) Change your perspective.
  • 8) Remember Eternity.
  • 9) Learn to be content.
  • 10) Choose joy.

These things will help you to live with more joy even when things aren’t going the way you want them to. Or the way you thought they would.  

1) Seek God first.

When we put God first, everything else falls into place. He helps us to find joy no matter what we face.  

In His presence, we find everything we need. 

Joy. Hope. Love. Peace.  

So, if we are feeling low on any of these things, then maybe we need to spend more time in the presence of our King.  

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”  

-Psalm 16:11 NLT
A sideview of a woman holding her hands up to her chest in prayer. And the words, "In God's presence we find everything we need."

2) Slow down.

If we are always in a rush, then we will be too busy to notice all the beauty around us. We will miss all the reasons to be joyful. And all the little things that give life real meaning.

3) Be grateful.

The more we give thanks, the harder it is to find reasons to complain.  

Simply by focusing on what we do have, rather than what we don’t, we end up feeling more content and joyful.  

4) Stay positive.

If all we do is complain about our lot in life, it will be very hard to find any joy.  

But if we choose to look for the good in every situation. To stay positive and hopeful, it becomes much easier to find reasons to be joyful.  

God loves us. And He is with us.  

So, we have every reason to be hopeful and optimistic about the future. 

We can also remember that even the hard things are working good in us by:

  • Growing our faith.  
  • Developing our character.  
  • And stretching us out of our comfort zone.  

Maybe this is why some people say the joy is in the journey. Because it is the journey that God uses to mold and shape us.  

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”  

-James 1:2-3 NLT

5) Pay attention to your environment.

We become what we are around.  

If we hang around negative people who like to complain. We will feel more negative and complain more.  

If we read or watch things that focus on everything going wrong in the world. Then we will feel more fearful and worried.  

This is why it is so important to pay attention to our environment.  

Pay attention to what you are surrounding yourself with. And if you need to, make some changes.

Even doing something as simple as turning on some worship and praise music as you get ready for the day, can make a world of difference in your attitude. 

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” 

-Psalm 94:19 NIV
A lake with woods and snow in the background. And the words, "If we focus on the world we will find ourselves feeling depressed and stressed. But if we focus on Jesus, we will feel blessed."

6) Fix your focus.

The Bible tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2) 

If we focus on the world, we will find ourselves feeling depressed and stressed.

But if we focus on Jesus, we will feel blessed.  

His comfort, encouragement, and strength are exactly what we need to get through our busy days.  

And when we focus on Him, we are reminded that no matter what happens . . . we are forever held in the arms of the God who dearly loves us.  

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.” 

-Psalm 5:11 NLT
A woman holding her hands to her face while smiling and sitting on a chair. And the words, "No matter what happens . . . we are forever held in the arms of the God who dearly loves us."

7) Change your perspective.

Waiting isn’t easy. And when we are in a season of suffering it can feel like it will never end. But this simply isn’t true. No matter what we are facing . . . it won’t last forever.

Someday everything will be made right. And God has promised He will use ALL things for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) 

So, while not all the things we face in this life are good. God can use them for good.  

And that fact alone is enough to bring us joy.  

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” 

-Psalm 30:5 NLT

“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” 

-Psalm 126:5 NLT
A woman smiling with tree leaves in the background. And the words, "While not all the things we face in this life are good. God can use them for good."

8) Remember Eternity.

When we think about what we have to look forward to, it can bring us great joy.  

So, if we are feeling low on joy we should take some time to really think about Heaven.  

Imagine meeting Jesus face to face!!!

Think about being reunited with loved ones who have passed on, or getting to know ancestors you’ve only heard stories of.  

Go ahead and DREAM about what Heaven will be like.  

How tasty it will be to eat fruit untainted by the curse. To hang out with people no longer ruled by sin. And to gaze upon the beauty of God’s creation in a state of holy perfection.  

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.”   

-1 Peter 1:6 NLT

“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” 

-John 16:22 ESV

9) Learn to be content.

Stop expecting to find joy in things. Too often we think, “When I get this or achieve that . . . then I will be happy.”  

But the truth is if you aren’t happy with what you have now. You won’t be happy when you get something else.  

Because there is always more stuff.

There’s always more things to do. 

And there’s always someone out there who has something better, newer, or cooler than you.  

A woman holding her hands to her head as she leans on her elbos over some open books on her desk. With a notebook and coffee cup nearby. And the words, "We can choose to live stressed, depressed, and lost in our mess. Or we can choose to turn to Jesus."

10) Choose joy.

The best way to find joy in the journey is to remember joy is a choice.  

We can choose to live stressed, depressed, and lost in our mess. Or we can choose to turn to Jesus.  

And allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to be more joyful people.  

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” 

-Psalm 118:24 NLT

Finding the Joy in the Journey

Jesus helps us find the joy in the journey by reminding us that no matter how hard the journey gets. No matter how dark the night becomes. No matter how much sorrow we are facing . . . we have hope.   

The hope that no matter what happens in this life . . . in the end, God wins.   

And because He wins . . . we win.   

At just the right time, everything will be made right. There will be no more sorrow. No more pain. And all our tears will be washed away when we see our beloved Savior face to face.   

And that, my friends, is the reason we can find joy in the journey.

No matter what the journey brings.  

If you find this inspiring, then please share so it can help others! 

And don’t forget to check out these other encouraging reads: 

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