Why don’t I wake with a joyful heart? Joy was just here. Where did it go?
I began to realize that what I’ve done for most of my life is resign myself to this idea: I’m really not going to have any lasting joy. And from that resignation, I’ve gone on to try and find what I could have. Women do this in marriage. They see that they are not going to have any real intimacy with their husbands, so they lose themselves in soaps or tabloids or romance novels. Men find their work a sort of slow death, so they get a little something in the bar scene each night. Have a few beers with the boys, watch the game. Joy isn’t even a consideration. Settle for relief.
Now, to be fair, joy isn’t exactly falling from the sky these days. We don’t go out to gather it each morning like manna. It’s hard to come by. Joy seems more elusive than winning the lottery. We don’t like to think about it much, because it hurts to allow ourselves to feel how much we long for joy, and how seldom it drops by.
But joy is the point. I know it is. God says that joy is our strength. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). I think, My strength? I don’t even think of it as my occasional boost. But yes, now that I give it some thought, I can see that when I have felt joy I have felt more alive than at any other time in my life. Pull up a memory of one of your best moments. The day at the beach. Your eighth birthday. Remember how you felt. Now think what life would be like if you felt like that on a regular basis. Maybe that’s what being strengthened by joy feels like. It would be good.