Joy (again)

Everyone wants to be happy, but different people seem to have different ways of pursuing it. This same end is sought by many different means. Most people, it seems to me (and I certainly include myself), are not naturally very good at finding happiness. The thing we spend our entire lives chasing is very elusive. Our highest aim has our lowest success rate.

It seems to me that joy is found in unlikely places. We think we will experience joy if we get our way, accomplish our goals, fulfill our dreams, but we’re wrong. We are chasing after shadows. As Ravi Zacharias once said, “the loneliest moment in all of life is the moment of success, when you get what you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it lets you down.” I have found this true for me. The things I pursue rarely make me happy. The times in my life I have felt the most joy:

a) serving another person in a way that I know will be meaningful for them
b) living in authentic community with other people
c) wholeheartedly working at something interesting or fun (whether a book or a game of tennis)
d) being married and the mutual love and vulnerability entailed in it
e) finishing a difficult task
f) enjoying something external to myself (e.g., good music, or a simple pleasure like going on a walk on a beautiful day)

I desire greater joy in my life. I want to live out of fullness, in a way that only God can provide. I want to have an experience of what Jesus is talking about in John 7:38: “whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” What is the way forward? Well, since joy is often found in the last places we look for it, this means a submitting, a surrender, and acknowledgement that we do not have joy and cannot find it on our own. It means forsaking one way of life and pursuing another. The path to joy is faith and surrender.

Proverbs 3:13-18:
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.”

2 Comments

  1. Ray Ortlund

    Thanks, Gav. It is paradoxical but true. Happiness is found not when we get what we want but when we surrender to what God wants and find, to our astonishment, that he really is as good as he says he is.

    Like

  2. Michelle

    My new word is gongudzo – greek word to remind me quit complaining, murmuring, grumbling, whining. 17 years as a Christian and just learned that discontent = rebellion = sin. OUCH!When going through trials my matra was, “Not going to let circumstances rob me of my joy.” Now it is quit bitching – God’s people are always a tried people.

    Like

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