It seems to me that we’re always settling for second best in our lives. We settle for friends who aren’t the best, we settle for a job that does not really fulfill us, we settle for entertainment that gives us a quick fix with no long lasting enjoyment. Maybe it’s because we’re conditioned to be consumers of stuff and not explorers of truth. That’s a heavy way to start a post, I know, but perhaps you’re identifying with this right from the start.
John Mayer wrote a song for his ‘Heavier Things’ album called ‘Something’s Missing’. He writes about things that have given him ‘some’ satisfaction, but in the end, after the things on his list are checked off, something is still missing. I think it’s JOY. One line in the second verse is telling. “I’m dizzy from the shopping mall, I searched for joy, but bought it all.”
You think in our search for happiness we missed the point? Maybe happiness is not what it’s cracked up to be – it is a temporary feeling based on emotions that are connected to circumstances or commodities. Tolstoy said that “Joy can only be real if people look upon their life as service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.”
When you think about it, Jesus never offers us happiness, but he does offer us something better. That ‘better thing’ would be JOY!
From Israel’s years in Exile to Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom, God has been hinting at a JOY that is beyond compare. While Israel is stuck, literally in another land, words of hope through Isaiah were pointing a new experience of Joy that was just around the corner. What they didn’t know is that Jesus was waiting for them around that corner. In Matthew 13:44, one of Jesus’ parables on the Kingdom is about a man that experiences ecstatic JOY. Paul, in Romans describes the Kingdom of God as righteousness, peace and…you got it, JOY.
Jesus, in John 15 says that he came so that his JOY (God’s JOY) would be in us, and that the sparks of JOY we already sensed in us would be complete in and through him. Again, Paul, this time in Galations, describing what our lives would look like with the spirit of Jesus in us, says that JOY is a fruit or evidence of Jesus in us.
This why both James & Peter say that we can experience JOY when times are tough. How else could we consider trials a JOY. If JOY is in us, then no matter the circumstance it’s there – it’s ours. If we only shoot for ‘HAPPY’ then even though we’ll feel good for a bit, that feeling can be gone pretty quickly, but if we take Jesus offer of JOY we are going for the best, not the feeble competition.
You wanna be Happy? Everything we’ve answered so far still goes – Forgive, Be Generous, Be Present, Be Thankful. But most importantly, let Jesus fill you with (his) JOY!
“JOY is not in things, it’s in us.” And it can only be in us because Jesus so graciously puts it there.