“For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” (Psalm 33:21 ESV)
The famed theologian and bishop, St. Augustine (b. 354 A.D. – not just a city in Florida) declared that we are born with restless hearts. Restlessness is not something that we learn or acquire, it is the condition of our humanity according to Augustine. To put it in modern, familiar language, “we are born this way”. In our D.N.A, or somewhere deep in the psyche, there is a hole, gap, vacuum, that pushes us to things that are fulfilling – love, sex, money, fame, winning, popularity, happiness etc. Why do we invest in romance? He or she will make us happy. Why is success in our careers so vital to our purpose in life? In order to obtain happiness, contentment, fulfillment! Why should I get good grades? So you can get into a good school, then get a good job so you can make a lot of money, and be happy! But, any honest person will inevitably reflect, at some point in their lives, and wonder, “is that all there is?” “Is this my purpose for living, simply to be happy?”
As C.S. Lewis pointed out, happiness or joy, is the one thing you cannot get by striving for it. The more you resolve to be joyful, or content, the less you will find it. It is similar to watching, or trying to chase, a play shower. Have you ever noticed that when it is raining terrifically hard, and you look at the street, often you will see a shower within a shower moving down the street? You can see it, but you can’t tell where it is going, and it moves very fast and erratic. Joy is like that play shower, sometimes it is visible but, sadly enough, always running away.
Ultimate joy is found only in Jesus Christ. Everything else, when elevated over him, will break your heart. In Jesus, joy does not run from you but toward you, with infinite speed, love and blessing. You cannot acquire this form of peace, it can only be given to you through the gospel. The gospel announces what Christ has done for us through his death and resurrection, and faith is God’s desired response from us to that news. “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” (Karl Barth). Have joy because of Jesus!