367,614 joys are just a click away!
A quick word search of “Joy” on Amazon.com offers 367,614 various options from which to choose. Books top the list, of course, but Amazon also offers organic supplements, essential oils, apps, necklaces, and cologne. All of those options appear conveniently on the first page and they each offer to ameliorate our longing for joy. Some make greater promises than others, but 367,614 is anecdotal evidence of the fact that the word “Joy” catches our attention.
The longing for joy appears to gallop through our very DNA.
We live in a chronically anxious culture, so we long for a talisman that delivers salvation from our anxiety. Many of us live under the misconception that if we just had joy, then we’d be less anxious; unfortunately, our search for joy generates what is already an immense cultural pressure that amplifies our chronic anxiety because our hunt lacks a clear aim. We aren’t sure how to define joy and we probably wouldn’t know what it was if it jumped up and grabbed us by the throat. We keep running, we keep looking, we keep buying, but joy remains largely out of reach.
Christians are not immune to this immense pressure to “be joyful.” It could be argued, actually, that we are guilty of both confusion over the term and also chasing it relentlessly. Many of us, therefore, chase happiness as if it were the same thing as joy and we collapse into bed each night exhausted and frustrated by the fruitless chase.
I remember singing George Willis Cook’s chorus song back in my Sunday School class: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart!” I recognized, even while wet behind the ears, the disonance between the words I was singing and the reality. I wasn’t sure what “joy” was, but it sure didn’t feel like it was “down in my heart.” No matter how many times I told myself it was down there, it rarely seemed to stay. I’m not suggesting that joy is forever out of reach. I’m only suggesting that you could buy all 367,614 items on Amazon and still not have joy. There must be another way besides positive talk and a spending spree.
Perhaps we’re still chasing joy on our terms instead of accepting joy’s terms. Joy demands a change of heart posture.
Perhaps joy is not so much an emotion, an attitude, or a state of mind. Perhaps joy is a posture of the heart. We can sing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart” until our faces are blue, but joy will remain illusive until the posture of our heart changes. What does that posture look like?
I plan on exploring the posture of joy over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me.
Sam Storms calls joy a deep, durable delight. So what kind of heart posture is condusive to deep, durable delight? I welcome your suggestions in the comments below and I look forward to exploring some answers together.