Ah yes. The past two days have been on rather depressing topics. None of us really like to think about regret or fear. It is like answering the Problem of Evil. None of us like to hear each example that the skeptic pulls up because so many of us can just feel the pain there and you want to address the issue, but you don’t want to ignore the wound.
Tonight though, we get to discuss the cure. We get to talk about joy. There is one important distinction that occurred to me actually while I was in a session with another pastor. That is that fear is of the future and regret of the past, but joy transcends time. It can be at home in all three areas. You can have joy over a past memory, joy over a future event coming (Like a marriage, birth of a child, eternity in Heaven), and joy over present circumstances.
Why is this? Because joy is at the heart of God and is thus, eternal. When we have joy, we are in fact touching eternity. It is the same for any other goodness. This is why true pleasure is so joyful. True pleasure is that which is not sinful in anyway and thus touches the heart of God. I think this is also why monogamous Christian marriages report greater joy in their sex lives than others do.
This is one reason we all seek something beyond ourselves. We all seek something transcendent. G.K. Chesterton once said that when a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is looking for God. Is it because joy is unnatural to us? In some ways. It is what we were created for and in and we are constantly wanting to experience Eden again.
It seems that the Fall has left us in a state of chaos and absurdity. We do not know who we are. We do not know who our neighbor is. We do not know what reality is. We do not know who God is. There is little that seems to make sense at times and we all seek that place of solace and we find that most in joy.
Joy is what brings us home in many ways. Joy is that which satisfies the longing of our hearts. Deep down, I suspect we know there is more to life than what we consider the meaningless day-to-day existence. We all want our lives to matter for something. We all want to make a difference. We all want to touch eternity.
We want more than what we have here. Are we not like the children at Christmas who get so many gifts and when we’ve opened them all we want to say “Is that it? Are there any more?” Indeed, how many of us have had Christmases where we did get so much that was good but at the end of the day, we felt empty? Isn’t there great truth in post-Christmas letdown?
What is the answer? Ah. It is simply to seek after where joy is. We are to seek God. However, we do not seek him for the joy ironically. We seek him for who he is. It’s quite bizarre indeed. I don’t believe God works the way we want to with joy because he is not a medicine.
You are not to read two chapters, pray, and witness to your neighbor in the morning and then you get joy. Joy just happens. However, I do believe we are to be on the lookout for it and we are to treasure it when it happens. It is one of those pleasant surprises in life and we are to enjoy it.
Dear friends. There are those moments that touch eternity. Remember them always. Remember also the one who has joy at his heart. C.S. Lewis once said that joy is the serious business of Heaven. He has made our hearts restless until we find their peace in him. Only then will we know joy that never ends.