In his book, “Surprised by Joy” C.S. Lewis tells the story of a most miserable person who decides to spend his life seeking the joy his life lacked. He devoted every day pursuing the people, places, and things that he thought could bring that elusive quality to his life: “Surely if this particular person really loved me it would make me joyful…” “If only I could transport myself from this prison of a house to some beautiful place I could be happy…” “Why am I always the one who has to take care of everybody and everything? I want someone else to carry all the responsibilities for a change. Surely then I would be happy …”
Don’t we all fall into that trap at least from time to time? That one thing that we desire, that we think will bring us joy is elusive. We believe that “if only” something was different it would deliver us from loneliness, bitterness, or stress.
The end of the story tells how that “joy pilgrim” realizes that joy cannot be had by seeking it. It does not exist or stand by itself as an obtainable state of being. Joy is the by-product of a life spent for God and others. It sneaks in the back door as we focus on living for God, seeking His righteousness, His Kingdom, and serving others. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” He was talking about overcoming the anxiety we have over basic provisions like food and clothing, but the Bible teaches that joy, along with love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control are also provided and developed only through seeking His righteousness and Kingdom, as well.
Why am I thinking about this? In part, because the Christmas season is upon us, and many times the season that we associate with love, joy, and peace can be anything but that, and our expectations can heighten feelings of loneliness we may have. But I speak to it also because most of us have a tendency to follow our feelings, and if we’re feeling joyless, peace less, or loveless, we tend to look to the wrong solution. As Christians, we don’t have to seek after joy, peace, or love; we seek Jesus, and when we do, all that He is and has becomes our own. Joyful, joyful we adore Him!