your capacity for joy

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple”, so says Psalm 27 v 4.

Our hearts are divinely fashioned to receive the joy which God wishes to fill them with. It is true, as Bernard of Clairvaux said, that “beauty is the soul’s birthright.” Even though we’ve damaged our taste for divine things by neglect and abuse, we still find ourselves being ‘surprised by joy,’ as C. S. Lewis put it. When we experience these moments of authentic joy, we’re reminded of the good purpose for which we were created. And we’re also reminded how foolishly we’ve strayed from the God who gave us such hearts as we have. God has not left Himself “without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” Acts 14 v 17.

Concerning this world and our capacity to enjoy its good things, Solomon said that it is rightful for us to “rejoice.” He said that “every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labour; it is the gift of God” Ecclesiastes 3 v 12 – 13. But more important than the enjoyment itself, Solomon also observed that God has made “everything beautiful in its time” and has put “eternity” in our hearts Ecclesiastes 3 v 11. The limited joy that so intrigues us now is a delightful hint of what lies ahead for those who diligently seek God. Having been given the ability to foretaste eternity, we are now being drawn toward Him.

Have there not been times when we’ve tasted a depth of joy that amazed us, times when we learned that more joy is available to us than we thought possible? These epiphanies ought to intrigue us and instruct us. They ought to suggest the vastness of what can be ours in God and whet our appetites for more of Him. For “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” 1 Corinthians 2 v 9. We were made for so much more than we have yet received. Why do we so often deny and resist the God who gave us our capacity for joy?

Nathaniel Hawthorne says it well:- “Our Creator would never have made such lovely days, and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, unless we were meant to be immortal.”