I live in Philadelphia, and in 2008, the Phillies (our baseball team) won the World Series. Nine years later, the Eagles (our football team) won the Super Bowl. In the aftermath of these victories, the city of Brotherly Love was filled with delight. It was a fantastic feeling and sight to behold.
I love sports and celebrating with my family and neighbors, but as powerful and intoxicating as the emotions were in the moment, it was “faux joy,” and it evaporated quickly. It didn’t take long for the franchises to struggle again, and merriment was replaced by other, less pleasant emotions in the fanbase.
Maybe sports aren’t your passion, but you don’t have to look very far for other sources of faux joy. We careen from thing to thing, hoping the next pleasure will give us the emotional high that is mistakenly called joy.
Faux joy makes you smile for a moment but leaves you empty and searching again before very long. Here are a few examples:
- We spend more than we should chasing the temporary high that purchasing and possessing give us.
- We eat more than we should, craving the short shelf-life of the mental and physical buzz that food gives us.
- We entertain ourselves too much, hoping that the numbing joy of fantasy worlds will help us cope with the real world we live in.
- We work too much, hoping that achievement will make us feel good about ourselves and our lives.
- We depend on people too much, searching for an inner sense of well-being in a relationship.
Real joy, however, is more than a temporary elevation of your emotions. In fact, you could say that real joy is fundamentally more than an emotion.
Joy is an inner peace and rest, based on what you know to be true, resulting in a life of thankfulness and expectancy.
Real joy is not just a feeling; it is a lifestyle. It is not the result of things that are happening around me, but a sturdy rest and peace that I bring to the things around me that change the way I think about and interact with them.
Real joy is vertical. It results from being in a personal relationship with the Creator and Ruler of the universe and resting in his plan for the world. Real joy is rooted in a belief that what God has told you is reliable and accurate.
Real joy is rooted in a radical recognition that God is working his unstoppable, wise, and gracious plan and that he will not relent until his will has finally been done.
Real joy recognizes that God’s victory is your victory.
Real joy looks up to God and beyond to eternity, resting in the certainty of his power and his plan, even though things at the moment may be confounding and hard.
And when nothing appears to make sense, you can awake with the confident joy that his plan is marching on and that he will win!
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
An unwavering joy that does not melt in the face of difficulty is found only in knowing God.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
Paul David Tripp
1. What has provided you with an emotional high recently? Why was it so exciting?
2. How was this momentary delight evidence of God’s goodness and generosity to you? How does it show off the glory of God? Why can you enjoy moments like this?
3. How long did your delight last? Why is its expiration a good reminder?
4. What has God promised and provided to you that is deeper and more permanent than temporary created pleasure? Create a list and remind yourself.
5. How do these promises and provisions give you confidence and joy even amid difficult life circumstances? Be specific. What are you facing today that real joy can carry you through?