As we grow older something happens to our joy box. You may not have known that you have a joy box. Surely enough, deep inside each and every one of us is a place that experiences, produces, and stores up this often elusory emotion. Joy is, at times, offered openly from our joy box. Sometimes it need be wrestled free. And then there are times that it is locked so tight we wonder if joy is even in there.
There is a catch when it comes to a full joy box. It is only filled when it is attached to joyful things. Ah – but what is a joyful thing? As we live we quickly discover that joy is imitated more frequently than any other thing. It is not uncommon for something that is unquestionably destructive to put on a pretty mask and sell itself as joy. It is not a rare thing to see the most debased and dysfunctional of actions to be laundered through joyful disguises fooling the lot of humanity. Joy is tricky that way. We desire the real thing but we settle for the fraudulent. We can wrap our joy box with elegant paper and opulent ribbons and proclaim that the joy inside is just as beautiful, however, lifting the lid reveals a pseudo joy disguised yet again.
As a child our joy is untethered. It is not reliant on a paycheck or a large house or a luxury car. Our joy box is pure and right and undefiled. As we get older we attach our joy to temporary things and find our joy does not last. We connect our joy to people and circumstances and objects and the obsessions slowly empty our joy box leaving only a pretty wrapper.
As a child we know not about properly tethered joy boxes. We were born with a joy box that is free and beautiful and produces large amounts of joy. The more we tether our joy box to temporarily joyful things the less joy our joy box produces. You see, our joy box was intended by God to be full. Upon creation God consistently declared that all created things were good. Somewhere along the line humanity began harnessing it’s joy to successes and to impermanent stop gaps. But success is a false joy. With success comes jealousy, after all, none of us are successful permanently. We affix ourselves to people but people do not last forever. With their passing comes an emptier joy box. We try to secure our joy to finances, but finances are fleeting and the control of finances a misguided illusion. We never know what evil things may come to steal them away leaving us, yet again, with empty joy boxes. Millionaires who lost their fortune during the stock market crash of 1929 were seen leaping from building to their death. They opened their joy box and realized it was as bare as could be and with an empty joy box comes the evaporation of hope.
The Apostle Paul gives us some direction on how to maintain a full joy box. He says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13) Paul seemed to master this concept. He also offered, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)
Paul discovered that his joy box could only be filled by his relationship with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, the God of hope desires to fill our joy boxes to the brim. When we allow our joy box to be untethered from temporary things we find that our joy box remains curiously full. And with a full joy box comes great hope. Hunger cannot empty a joy box. Neither can shelter or a dwindling bank account. There is a joy that God desires us to relive every single day – a hope that can only be found in Christ Jesus. It’s an eternal hope and it stuffs our joy box with so much joy that we even find ourselves rejoicing in trials – counting them all as joy. (James 1:2)
It’s an odd thing this joy box when it is untethered.