Finding Joy

By Derek Earl, Guest Author

[This article originally appeared on] 

The movie turns on, the Pixar intro begins to play, and my son John runs into the room yelling, "Dory! Dory! Nemo! Nemo!" He knows what movie it is even before it's begun. I have probably seen Finding Dory 10 times, or at least caught glimpses of it while he watches. He's too young to remember the original Finding Nemo, but I certainly remember the first time I saw it. I loved that movie. I loved the concept and plot of a father searching for his lost son.

Now, as much as I would love to draw a big theologically-tasty parallel between a father (Marlin) searching for his son (Nemo), and God searching for His lost sons and daughters, I'll refrain. Instead, let me pose a question about these particular Pixar movies that you've probably never asked yourself.

Would Marlin and Dory have been content if they had never found what they were looking for?

We all smiled when Nemo made his way down the dentist's drain and into the sea. We laughed as Dory forgetfully made her way back to her parents. And we were overjoyed when all was well again for both of them. Would we have been happy if it hadn't ended this way? Would we have had joy in that kind of ending? These questions are a bit silly given that they are about a fictional story, but what about our own stories? What happens when we don't find the job we're looking for? What happens when that special someone leaves or never shows up in the first place? What happens when our world falls apart? 

You see, happiness and joy are two very different things. 

Happiness is fleeting and cheap. It's like a sparkler on the 4th of July. It's lit and begins to crackle and spark, all in a variety of wonderfully different colors. And in about 30 seconds, it's gone. 

Joy, on the other hand, is like slow-burning ember or coal. It is not always the flashiest of things to gaze at, but its intense heat will continue to burn long after the sparklers have all gone out. Not only that, but if you care for the ember well enough and add just the right kind of tinder or fuel, you can create a fire so great that others will be able to see its light from miles away. And even when the rains come and the great fire dies down, the ember will continue to burn steady, waiting for its next chance to ignite. 

All this to say, life does not always turn out like we think it ought to. We do not always get the Pixar ending to our day, week, month, or year that we sometimes believe we deserve. However,

James 1:2-4 tells us to, "COUNT IT ALL JOY, MY BROTHERS, WHEN YOU MEET TRIALS OF VARIOUS KINDS, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." As Christians we have the source of all joy, "since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:1-5). 

So get out your sparklers, turn on some Pixar, and enjoy all of the little things that bring us happiness, but let us never forget about the deep burning joy we have because of what God, through Christ, has done for us!