"Go ahead! Cry out for help to the gods you’ve chosen—let them get you out of the mess you’re in!” "Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much!"The occasional sarcastic barb, I've come to understand, is one thing; a lifestyle grounded in cynicism is quite another. Sarcasm may punctuate a point, but cynicism is a kind of abdication of responsibility; it assumes that things that demand to be changed are unchangeable, and it consoles a person with the notion that at least you get it; at least you're not simplistic and naive enough to think change is possible. Cynicism as a lifestyle starts the human story with the fall of Adam and Eve and ends it with the latest bad day. It finds evidence of original sin everywhere it looks, because it expects to find it. Cynicism is arguably chronic in our age, but it's no more inherent to our being than "original sin" is original to our existence. There's a story that predates the fall of Adam and Eve, a story that, as Margaret points out, is filled with joy.
A close inspection of the first chapter of Genesis describes the fabric of creation as knit together with divine affection and delight. Throughout the process of creation, God observes and celebrates the goodness of what he makes. The declaration “God saw that it was good” rings out like a holy chorus until God eyes all he has made and concludes, “It was very good.” God’s repeated declaration of “good” suggests that God delighted in the outcome multiple times. God was so pleased and happy with the results that he percolated with joy. The rich imagery of Genesis 1 suggests the kind of creative high an artist experiences upon completion of a great work. Another vivid illustration of the creation story is tucked into Proverbs. The personified voice of wisdom, one of God’s active attributes in creation, describes, “Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.”Joy is inherent to God's approach to the world. Joy is characteristic of wisdom. As Margaret observes, "We spring from joy," because we are made in the image of God, and God is joyful in his bones. TWEET THIS: Joy is inherent to God's approach to the world. Joy is characteristic of wisdom. We lack imagination when we lack joy. But more than that, we lack the resources we need to persevere through the hardships we inevitably face. "More than whimsy," Margaret writes, "joy is a weapon we use to fight life's battles.
Sure, the virtue of joy is an upbeat companion for life, but that is not the whole story. The true power of joy supersedes a chirpy disposition, candy-coated emotion, or saccharine fantasy. It’s far more tangible than any magical notion of clicking your heels and discovering your bliss. Joy serves a useful and mighty purpose.TWEET THIS: We lack imagination when we lack joy.