For the most part, the world defines joy as happiness perfected.
In fact, I'm launching a new blog series: Stabs of Joy -- beginning today.
The goal? To explore -- over the course of months, possibly years -- stacks of books and scores of songs to answer one question: how do we experience (not just talk about) the joy that Jesus Christ promises to those who believe in Him?
Why is this topic important to me?
In 2010 I experienced an unexpected tragedy -- a loss in my family -- and it was devastating. It also exposed some things. It made me realize something important: I could talk the talk all the day about Christian joy, but I really wasn't experiencing Christian joy.
I asked God to change that. I asked Him to fix me.
And He did.
God saw fit to use a few souls birthed on the Emerald Isle to help accomplish the job: a stack of books by the Belfast-born C.S. Lewis and a large pile of albums by the Dublin-raised band U2 (#U2, #U2Fans).
Among a multitude of things, I learned that joy -- real joy, the eternal kind -- is not happiness perfected.
Joy is hunger perfected -- hunger for God perfected, to be more accurate.
As C.S. Lewis (#CSLewis) pointed out, joy is an unsatisfied desire -- an intense desire -- that is itself more desirable than any satisfaction.
Joy stabs us when we least expect it. It's not something we control. It's not dependent upon earthly circumstances -- i.e. if things are "going well." It's something external to us that invades our senses using common, everyday experiences, objects, and memories. These stabs of joy trigger an intense desire for something beyond this physical world that feels far-off and mysterious, but somehow -- and we sense this instinctively -- we know it is greatly to be desired; and just the sensation of that spiritual hunger is more wonderful than any earthly satisfaction.
It's a fervent desire and hunger for God -- whether we realize He is the object or not -- for the Author of Life, for the Creator that knows the number of hairs on your head, for the One who longs for a personal relationship -- yes, dialogue, mutual understanding, shared interests, authentic emotion -- with you.
It's hunger for the Fount of Joy -- the Living God who made all things good.
And in the coming months and years, we're going to get to know this Author a little better -- with a little help from my Irish friends.
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