Devotional: The Joy Pathway

As a public health nurse, I often find myself in unique conversations with patients and nurses. I especially enjoy questions that inspire personal introspection and reflection as a nurse of faith.

Recently, I led a time study with the Code White team for a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). The hospital constructed two new towers, one being a children’s tower. The dilemma was that the PICU team was stationed in the old hospital and the new children’s tower did not have a pediatric code team.

My goal was to ensure that the code team could respond and arrive in the children’s tower in under 5 minutes. It was exciting! I arrived at the facility that day in my business attire and was able to do a Wonder Woman costume change into my scrubs. The code team was shocked as I emerged on the unit, blending in with their ensemble. Then we were off! The code was called overhead, and I raced with them to the children’s tower with stopwatch in hand. On the third run, an extremely tall physician looked down at me and said, “That smile tells me you really love this work! It’s rare that you see someone living joy and happiness at the same time.”

Insert ‘deer in the headlights’ expression here.

He continued, “And… your face now says that you don’t know the difference. Let me know when you understand.”

It was true; I do love what I do. I am happy and experience joy often. Do I experience them concurrently? I sat in my car after work to read articles about joy and happiness. I was reminded of Psalm 16: 11:  “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”



External (people, places, or things)

Internal (wisdom, content, peace)

Getting what you want

Getting what you get

An experience

A skill

Disneyland keepsake

Disneyland memory

Joy is internal while happiness is external. Joy as a skill means that we actively pursue positive acceptance of what we get, with the opposite being happiness from getting what we want. Joy is a pathway to deeper lived experiences like forgiveness or gratitude. And having joy presents us with more opportunities to experience happiness.

The nursing profession is a relational movement toward wellness and wholeness for individuals and communities. Intentionally pursuing joy and happiness ensures that those entrusted to our care continue to welcome us along for their lived health experiences.  Our takeaway as nurses of faith: We can do hard things in the fullness of joy in Christ.

Amanda Madrid, MSN, RN, PHN-CPH, is a PhD student at Loma Linda University School of Nursing in California and the NCF Club Advisor at California Baptist University. 

Karmi, E., Ghamei, S. Z., Forouhari, S., Abbasi, Z., & Nourimand, F. (2020). The effectiveness of Fordyce Happiness Program on nursing Students’ emotional intelligence. PJMHS, 14(1).

Kluger, B. M., Garvan, C. W., & Holloway, R. G. (2021). Joy, suffering, and the goals of medicine. JAMA neurology, 78(3), 265-266.

Summa, M. (2020). Joy and happiness. In The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Emotion (pp. 416-426). Routledge.

Krasko, J., Intelisano, S., & Luhmann, M. (2021). When happiness is both joy and purpose: The complexity of lay definitions of happiness and well-being is related to actual well-being.

Yale. 2021 [Video]. The Difference between joy and happiness. 

TedEx. 2016 [Video]. What makes life good? Lessons from the longest study on happiness. 



This devotional touched my heart when I read it. I definitely will be sharing it with my students.

Thank you for this wonderful reminder of living joy and happiness because of love for the Lord.

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