Joy is one of those things that seems to be misunderstood in most Christian circles. I think of it as the forgotten fruit. We can all see how to practice love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, etc. But how do you practice joy? Isn’t joy an emotion like happiness? It’s an understandable question and exactly what John Piper answers. He takes his readers through what joy is and isn’t and does it with his usual saturation of scripture.
Piper’s reasoning for this book stems from his fundamental mantra from Desiring God that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” This ‘satisfaction’ is the pursuit of our joy. But inherently there are people that struggle with joy; they get stuck in a funk, unable to escape the darkness. Piper addresses this with care, understanding, and clarity. It should bring hope to those who struggle to maintain joy.
There are a few insights on joy I found particularly helpful. Piper references 2 Cor. 1:24, noting that faith and joy are interchangeably used. Just as faith is a gift of God but must be pursued and strengthened, so our joy is a gift of God (the joy of Christ as our salvation) and must also be worked and perfected throughout our walks with Him.
Part of this working out of our joy means preaching the gospel of Christ to ourselves regularly. The Psalmist does so in Psalm 42 and Piper applies a great quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” What a powerful truth. Something I must constantly remember!
Overall, this is a great book that I’ve been working on for quite a while and finally finished. I have always found joy to be fascinating but often misunderstood. I wanted to be able to speak to this topic more confidently and authoritatively; I think I’m definitely closer to that.