Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Have you ever looked at the face of someone who just scored a winning touchdown, won first place at a competition, or just won the grand prize on a game show? Well if you have, you’ve noticed they look pretty happy. But I want you to realize that not one of those things has anything to do with joy.
Because joy isn’t a product of something you have your hand in. Joy is not affected by what we can do in our own strength. And joy is not something this world can truly offer us in the first place.
Most of us in today’s world have mistaken happiness for joy. But if we unveil the truth behind what joy in Christ is, it is something eternal and unshakable.
What would happen if the man who scored the winning touchdown didn’t get both feet on the field before the catch? What would happen if you took away the first place medal? And what would happen if the game show contestant had lost instead of won? Would those people be robbed of their joy? Nope, because true joy cannot be taken away or affected by circumstances that surround us.
Joy is eternal. Joy cannot be shaken. Joy cannot be earned.
I only know of one thing that’s eternal, unshakable, and unearned: life in Christ. No matter how much we achieve, accumulate, build, and create, all of those things eventually turn to dust. Jesus is the one thing that remains.
There’s a famous poem called “Ozymandias” by the English Romantic Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; it highlights the futility of looking for satisfaction in things of the world. In the poem, a traveler comes across two giant stone legs in the desert. Next to the legs is the shattered head of the statue and a pedestal with the ironic inscription, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” This once great king’s statue is now nothing more than a few crumbled shards. And his kingdom—likely once lush and green—is now a desert. Nothing remains.
Jesus is the one and only constant, the one and only source of true joy and fulfillment we can count on. Imagine a world built on joy and not the satisfaction of temporal happiness. Imagine if people found joy in simply living and weren’t desperately searching for happiness by trying to make a living.
Spend time thinking or journaling about the difference between happiness and joy and whether true joy can be found outside of Jesus. What changes do you need to make in your life this year to prioritize true, lasting joy?