In C. S. Lewis’ autobiography, Surprised by Joy, he tells of experiencing an other-worldly joy ─ a specific Joy that defies our modern understanding. This idea of Joy is not a satisfied desire but an unsatisfied desire ─ a deep longing for God, a hungry pursuit of God’s heart that never ends and is more satisfying than any earthly happiness.
Lewis recalls three seemingly trivial and disconnected events with a common thread: he experienced a sudden, piercing pang of longing ─ a bittersweet ache and yearning for something far-off, other-worldly, and unnamed during each event.
He would later recognize these sudden aches of longing: a deep spiritual hunger for God ─ not just for an intellectual knowledge of God, but for a real relationship with Him. These deep longings in Lewis’ life ─ these stabs of Joy ─ worked as flashing sign-markers pointing him down the path toward Christ.
How to Act on This
True Joy, as Lewis presents it to us, is the ache for something beyond this world. The Holy Spirit uses this restlessness to awaken spiritual hunger. When little moments of life ─ like the way the light falls on a summer evening ─ stir you with a deep longing that’s hard to define, don’t look to earthly pursuits to fill the void. Instead, allow the ache to push you deeper into your relationship with God. Pursue Him. Allow that longing for Him to become the hottest fire in your heart.
C. S. Lewis Quote of the Day, from Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life:
"The reader who finds these three episodes [in which Joy occurred] of no interest need read this book no further, for in a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else."
Shadowlands and Songs of Light Quote of the Day:
"Joy—that sharp, wonderful Stab of Longing—has a lithe, muscular lightness to it. It’s deft. It produces longing that weighs heavy on the heart, but it does so with precision and coordination…It dashes in with the agility of a hummingbird claiming its nectar from the flower, and then zips away. It pricks, then vanishes, leaving a wake of mystery and longing behind it."