What is joy? - 7 April 2021

By Xanthe Hancox

A few years ago a letter written by CS Lewis to a Mrs Ellis, date 19 August 1945 was discovered in a second-hand book. The handwritten letter had been enclosed within a copy of A Problem of Pain and in it, CS Lewis wrote about the concept of joy.

“Real joy”, he writes, “… jumps under ones ribs and tickles down one’s back and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’ nights”. Isn’t that wonderful? Three years later, Lewis would expand on the subject in his memoir Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, the account of his conversion to Christianity.

Joy, he would write in his memoir, later, “must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure.”

Biblical joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of God’s love growing in us. For a believer in Jesus Christ, joy is more than a fleeting response to happy times. Joy is cultivated, pruned, and harvested throughout all the seasons and circumstances of our lives. Jesus laid the foundation of joy when he freed us from sin, with all its pain and suffering, and made new life possible for us. Joy in Christ’s success lies at the heart of who we are in Christ. This is the joy we claim. This is the joy we cultivate!

Prayer: Lord, joy is a gift you offer us through your death and resurrection. Continue to grow the gift of joy in us so your fruit is evident in our lives. In the peace, love, and joy of Christ we pray. Amen